The following transcription is from an audio lecture on Sufi Principles of Meditation, a course originally delivered live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
In our studies of meditation, we are deeply concerned with levels of being, degrees of consciousness, which, according to the 14th Dalai Lama, is infinite. A very famous Sufi initiate by the name of Abd al-Karim al-Jili, he wrote a book called The Universal Man, Al-Insan al-Kamil. He stated, “The journey to God is short. The journey in God is infinite.”
While this work teaches us how to reunite with divinity, with the Truth, the reality is that upon entering religion, reunion, there are qualities of knowledge, of understanding, which are within the divine. It is infinite. Consciousness has the capacity to expand to an infinite degree, and different traditions teach and map these levels of consciousness in different ways, in varying levels.
The conservative Piscean traditions, in which the different doctrines and scriptures originated within the past 2,000 years, speak about these levels of being, these levels of consciousness, in a very abstract manner. The writings are not very explicit and require a lot of experience and initiation from a teacher or a sheikh, a guru, a master, but times are different. We now live in an era related to the astrological influence of Aquarius.
Pisces was noted for its conservatism. The knowledge had to be earned, and only when practitioners would meditate for many years, would they be allowed to really understand and be taught the heights of their spiritual tradition, and in Sufism this is no exception.
Sufism pertains to the Era of Pisces, and while many manuals of writings were given in that tradition, a lot of that wisdom is very veiled, and only understood by initiates: people who are awakening their consciousness, not only physically, but in the internal planes―whether through dream yoga, astral projection. But whether or not those abilities are developed in us we can begin to appreciate and understand, to approach these levels of consciousness, which the Sufis call stations.
A station is a place that people travel to, where people arrive, where people leave. The levels of being are described as places or stopping points in ascension towards the Truth. The highest station among the Gnostics is Marif’ah. It is knowledge of divinity. It is permanent self-realization. It is the full incarnation of God in the soul: the path of resurrection which Samael Aun Weor speaks about in his book The Three Mountains. These degrees or stations of the path as taught by the Sufis, were explicitly provided by Samael Aun Weor in The Three Mountains.
So in this lecture we will talk about how meditation applies to the science of the Tree of Life, the Tree of Being, the levels of being, which is a map to understand where we are and where we must go if we truly want to obtain religion, yoga.
The levels of Being or these stations, these degrees of knowledge, of development, are made explicit within the writings of the Aquarian knowledge, and I’ll read for you a quote from the book The Aquarian Message by our teacher Samael Aun Weor. The chapter is from Internal Meditation:
“The seven degrees of ecstasy through which the mystic reaches the perfect state of the soul are described in the school of Sufism. The school of Sufism teaches about ecstasy. The state and secret of our level is revealed in Sufism, because this is the interior state of life in God.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Aquarian Message, “Internal Meditation”
So what is ecstasy? It comes from the Latin ecstatuo [Greek ἔκστασις ekstasis], “to stand outside oneself.” It is our psychological state that we cultivate as we learn to remove the ego and to go beyond our level of being, to become something more, something profound.
Samael Aun Weor writes in Revolutionary Psychology, “What is our level of Being? We must know where we are if we wish to ascend to a higher level.”
Our psychological state determines everything, which is why meditation is so fundamental for change. Meditation is precisely the science, the art, the philosophy, the religion of understanding our own conditions of mind, but also our virtues, our qualities of soul. This is much more important than any outward adherence in a group, or participation in a school. While schools are necessary, they provide clarification of how to practice meditation. They also inspire us to work, to want to change, but a group itself is not a defining factor of whether one will reach the goal.
Our work is our own. In the Piscean era, and even today, the Sufi schools are very conservative. They only taught the most profound doctrine, the most profound sciences, to those who have proven themselves under the jurisdiction of a teacher, but of course in the Aquarian Era “Initiation is our own life intensely lived with rectitude, and with love” (Samael Aun Weor), which is why even Bayazid Bastami, a Sufi initiate, stated the following, “I stood with the pious and I didn’t find any progress with them. I stood with the warriors in the cause, and I didn't find a single step of progress with them. Then I said, ‘Oh Allah! What is the way to you? And Allah said, ‘leave yourself and come.’”
Meaning: leave behind the ego. Eliminate the ego. Strive and fight in yourself, work on yourself. Abandon our previous level of being, what we are now, to become something new, and transformed
The Levels of Being: Stations of the Sufi Path
These levels of Being are depicted by Kabbalah, the Tree of Life, and it is this image, this map of consciousness, this diagram of divinity that is missing from the teachings of the Sufis, and even many other traditions, because the Tree of Life was not explained openly by the Muslim masters, but it is an essential diagram or graphic that elaborates and explains the stations of the Sufi path.
Ten spheres, ten stations, with all of their multiplicity, their dimensionality, their infinite qualities―this diagram teaches us where we are in our meditation, and therefore those schools that leave aside the Tree of Life do not understand meditation in its heart, because we cannot understand where we are, what our level of being is, where we must go, if we do not understand the Kabbalah.
קבלה Kabbalah comes from the Hebrew, קבל Kabel, meaning “to receive.” It also means “tradition,” the secret teachings of the initiates. When we meditate, we investigate, we analyze, we experience, we then receive new knowledge. We understand the depths and intricacies of the soul, and the path that leads out of suffering.
But in order to do that we have to abandon what we are. As Abu Sa’id, a Sufi initiate, stated,
“Wherever the delusion of your selfhood appears―there’s hell. Wherever you aren’t―that’s heaven.” ―Abū Sa’īd in Ibn Munawwar: Asrār at-tawḥīd, ed. Shafī‘ī-Kadkanī, 299
The ego is the problem. The ego is the obstacle. The sense of “I,” “me,” “what I want,” “what I crave,” “what I desire,” in itself is called the tree of death, in Islam. شجرة الزقوم The tree of Zaqqum, which in Arabia is an actual tree whose leaves are very bitter to taste, became a symbol of the infra-dimensionality of the ego: the subconsciousness, the unconsciousness, the infraconsciousness.
So we have to abandon our own pride, fear, laziness, lust, defects, nafs in Arabic, the lower soul, in order to obtain heaven. But this quote is very interesting. It says that “Wherever you aren’t―that’s heaven.” This does not mean that there is a complete nihilism there, that we cannot experience heaven. It depends upon our level of being. Are we attached to our negativities, our hatreds, our self-esteem? Or do we set that egotism aside, withdraw the senses, and awaken the consciousness, the soul, so that we can experience the Being?
Remember that this map, this Tree of Life, represents us―who we are, who we really are―not our culture, our language, our name, but divinity.
Stations are precisely the degrees of consciousness that we develop in ourselves through work. These are known as initiations. And if you study the writings of Samael Aun Weor, such as The Three Mountains, The Major Mysteries, The Perfect Matrimony, Tarot and Kabbalah, Alchemy and Kabbalah in the Tarot, you understand that this Tree of Life is essential. These are precisely the stations of the path, the degrees of consciousness, which we seek to actualize.
Remember that initiation is our own life. It is not found in a physical group, although those schools help. They instruct. They inspire. Real Initiation occurs when we humble ourselves, when we humiliate our ego. Shame comes before honor. If we wish to return to divinity, we have to strip away the baggage, the delusion of self, which is not real. We have to remember the Being, the Tree of Life, because the Being is heaven. When the ego dies, the soul returns to divinity, our true reality: a profound state of omniscience, cognizance, happiness.
And so this diagram helps us to understand ourselves. It is very intricate, very deep. Here we introduce it in the context of this lecture to frame the discussion of the forthcoming lectures in this course.
Divine Nature in Arabic Kabbalah
So again, initiation is development, qualities of consciousness that we learn to realize here and now. It is obtained through very profound work, but of course the Being, divinity―whom the Sufis and Muslims call الله Allah―is precisely the one who gains the initiation honors, degrees, qualities and experiences, understanding, wisdom. الله Allah in Arabic means “The God.” And if you look at this graphic you find that there is a top trinity that emerges from an abstract Seity, a perfect profound and limitless space known as אין Ain, אין סוף Ain Soph, אין סוף אוֹר Ain Soph Aur. That is the Absolute. That is Allah, because even the term Allah meaning “the God” refers to the most profound heights of the Truth.
In Islam they do not have any images of God. It is considered sacrilegious. That is because it is impossible to anthropomorphize space, and the light that emerges is precisely in this diagram, this top trinity: Kether, Chokmah, Binah: Crown, Wisdom, Intelligence. It is light that expresses in three ways, but is one. There is no division of that light. It is perfect, but it manifests in three ways in order to create life, which is why the Qur’an speaks abundantly about how one of the names of divinity is الخليق Al-Khaliq, “The Creator,” referring to Binah, the intelligence of divinity that creates the soul.
Likewise we have الرحمن Al-Rahman, the Compassionate, الرحيم Al-Rahim, the Merciful―Chokmah and Chesed―which refers to the beginning of each Surah of the Qur’an with the exception of Surah 9: بِسْمِ ٱللَّٰهِ ٱلرَّحْمَٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim, “In the Name of Allah the Compassionate, the Merciful.”
Kether is also Allah, the Crown, Supremacy, and that light which emerges from the unknown is that perfect expression of God.
Of course, the Christians refer to this trinity as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, but that teaching in that tradition degenerated when people mistakenly believe these divinities to be three people and not energy, consciousness. So that is why the Qur’an is explicit and rejects the trinity. But we study all traditions so that we do not end up in fanaticism or confusion.
This light is perfect. It is the Being, and if we wish to know and develop that light as expressed in Surah Al-Nur, the 24th sura of the Qur’an, we learn to enter initiation, to develop that light. We learn to forget our egotism. We put it aside, and remember our true Self, the reality of that light, that great perfection.
Kabbalah, Numerology, and Persian Sufism
So let us define, according to the Sufis what stations are, initiations, levels of progress. The levels of knowing God, the remembrance of God, occurs in accordance with hierarchy, and even amongst the Sufis, they explain these stations in very different ways: sometimes 7, sometimes 40, other times 100, or even 1,000.
These stations refer to the qualities of ourselves, our soul, such as discipline, contentment, awe of divinity.
It is important to remember that these stations are very dynamic. When Samael Aun Weor wrote about these different initiations, he was very specific, and explained something that was never taught publicly. But the Sufis alluded to that teaching in a very abstract way. So as I said, sometimes the Sufis say there are 7 stations, sometimes 40, sometimes 100.
The number 7 is important to Kabbalah. It refers to 7 levels of the soul, the lower 7 levels of the spheres or סְפִירוֹת sephiroth, the Hebrew term for “emanations.” There are also 40 stations referring to the 4 worlds of Kabbalah, the 10 sephiroth in the tree of life in the 4 worlds: Atziluth, Briah, Yetzirah, Asiah.
40 also relates to the Hebrew letter מ Mem, which refers to words like מים mayim, water, and even the Arabic مائي mayiyn, which has the same significance.
Farid ud-Din Attar wrote a book or a poem called The Conference of the Birds, and he speaks about the 7 stations of the path. Al-Qushayri, who wrote Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism, explained that there are 40 stations, which are very profound, and much of the knowledge we are providing here comes from that text. And lastly there is the 100 stations of the Sufi path by Abdullah Ansari of Herat.
All these initiates were Persian, and I’ll quote for you what Samael Aun Weor wrote in The Perfect Matrimony about Persian Sufi initiates:
“The most ineffable part of Mohammedan mysticism is Persian Sufism. It has the merit of struggling against materialism and fanaticism and against the literal interpretation of the Qur’an. The Sufis interpret the Qur’an from the esoteric point of view as we, the Gnostics, interpret the New Testament.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Perfect Matrimony
So Sufism teaches us how to interpret the Qur’an, because the language of the Qur’an is Kabbalah, which if you say in Spanish is La Kaba. It is the science of the stone. In the Middle East, Muslims pray towards Mecca, the Kaaba, the stone of the mysteries. That stone is a symbol of the work with Yesod, the vital forces that are essential into entering meditation.
If you say la baca, the same syllables in Spanish, you have “the cow,” and Al -Baqarah is the longest surah of the Qur’an. It is “The Cow,” a reference to the divine mysteries of the eternal feminine, the Divine Mother. There are very profound mysteries here, very deep.
The term baqa actually means “subsistence.” The term fana in Arabic means “elimination, annihilation” of the self, so that one can enter the Truth. Baqa is subsistence within the Truth. So once we have died to the ego, the soul subsists and realizes the Being, baqa. That is the mystery of Al-Baqarah: the sacred cow within Islam, the longest surah of the Qur’an. If you are interested in knowing more about these topics you can study specifically The Eternal Tarot course we have available on chicagognosis.org, where we speak a lot about the Muslim mysteries and the Kabbalistic symbolism contained within those teachings.
Kabbalah is the science of numbers. They represent principles. The law of 7 is very deep, and it can teach us how to meditate, to understand the Tree of Life in its order. 40 can also relate to 40 virtues, relating to מ Mem in Hebrew, or in Arabic م Meem.
The fact that certain Sufis refer to 100 stations can also refer to initiation, because when you add the numbers together, the digits, 1+0+0=1 relates to the first card of the sacred tarot, Arcanum 1: The Magician, which refers to laws of the Being and the soul, the path of development. The tarot and the Kabbalah are one science, and we use these principles when we study meditation. It is a map and it is how we navigate our own internal worlds.
The Definition of Stations: Initiations
Stations refer to initiations. And going back to the first card of the sacred arcana, is referring to the Magician, the one who begins, who initiates, who works. The following is from Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al Qushayri:
“A station consists of certain forms of behavior actualized by the servant through his struggles. He gains access to these through some kind of voluntary effort and makes them a reality through a sort of striving and the endurance of constraints upon his nature.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So these are the levels of being. We access a higher level of Being by working on our mind, by struggling against mechanical habits, defects. We must gain access to the higher worlds through conscious works and voluntary sufferings. This is a very famous quote by Samael Aun Weor: “We can only awaken through conscious works and voluntary sufferings.” He doesn’t mean that we go out of our way to look for problems. It means that we accept the results of our prior actions, and face the consequences with rectitude, with ethics, with love for humanity.
That is how we constrain the ego. We allow our ego to suffer when we do not get what it wants. This is fundamental if we wish to enter into initiation, understanding of the higher degrees of meditation.
“Everyone’s station is the place that he occupies in this way and with the discipline of which he concerns himself. The necessary condition involved is that no one may proceed from one station to another without fulfilling the requirements of the first station.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
There are very clear levels of development, a progression which the Tree of Life maps very explicitly, very beautifully. The path is very layered. There are levels and degrees, if you have studied The Perfect Matrimony, the Minor Mysteries, the Major Mysteries, the Venustic Initiations, the Three Mountains. While these concepts might seem very far away from us and elevated, they give us a diagram, a map, an understanding of where we are and what we must do.
So Al-Qushayri continues:
“For instance, he who has no contentment cannot properly possess trust. He who has no trust cannot properly possess the quality of surrender. Likewise he who has not turned to God cannot properly know penitence. He who has no vigilance over the morality of his actions cannot properly know renunciation.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
If we wish to enter those higher degrees of initiation, we must work with our level of Being. Certain qualities cannot be developed unless we are very intentional. By eliminating certain defects, we give birth to virtues. By learning to renounce our mind, we in turn are vigilant, watchful over our own morality. If we have not repented of our mistakes and really wept profoundly for our errors, we cannot turn to God. If we have no remorse, we cannot change, we cannot wish to yearn or look for help, and if we do not trust our inner divinity, we will never surrender to him with contentment.
So all these qualities are very interwoven, dynamic, infinite, but it is useful to combine this study with the Tree of Life because it helps to clarify these qualities in ourselves.
Raising One’s Station or Level of Being
Al-Qushayri also continues in his Principles of Sufism, relating how the stations are stepping stones towards the path that leads to divinity,
“The station, place of stay, is the act of staying (iqamah), just as the word madkhal, entry, has the sense of the act of entering (idkhal) and the word makhraj, exit, has the sense of the act of leaving (ikhraj). If his affair is to be firmly constructed upon a sound basis, no one may remain in a given station unless there is evidence that it is the act of God Most High [and not his own act] that causes him to stay in that station.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So as I mentioned to you, stations are stepping stones, degrees, virtues and qualities that we develop in a progression, qualities of the soul that are perfected in the different initiations mentioned by Samael Aun Weor.
There are virtues that we need to master at certain degrees. In מלכות Malkuth, the First Initiation of Fire, we must have patience, tenacity, endurance in order to awaken the fire of the kundalini, the sacred Shekhinah.
In יְסוֹד Yesod, we must truly repent for our lustful deeds, our desires.
In הוד Hod, the heart, the astral world, we have to work on our emotions very deeply: our anger, our resentment, our pride.
In נצח Netzach, the mental world, we have to be very diligent about how we think, how our thoughts affect others.
While these qualities are not strictly limited to those sephiroth, there are certain idiosyncrasies we need to learn. And that is something you can only know through experience. These stations are places in which one can stay or which one can leave, one can transcend. The goal is never to stay in one place, never to go down, to fall, but to ascend these higher and higher degrees of knowledge.
So we are not allowed to stay stationary, unless that is what our divinity wants. There are some practitioners who get stuck because of certain defects they are working on, or do not understand. Other times the Being keeps us at a certain degree because we need to learn something more, to be firmly established in certain virtues, and the understanding of certain actions, but the goal is never to stay in one place, but to always ascend, to go up, to ascend this Tree of Life.
This map is very intricate. It is very dense. There are many relationships associated with each sphere. There are many names of divinity, many aspects of the soul and the Being that are diagrammed here. It is a lifetime of study, to really traverse this map of consciousness from experience. These stations are known as maqamat in Arabic. These are initiations, degrees, levels of development. And I will quote for you a very famous Persian text which I mentioned by Abdullah Ansari of Herat, The Stations of the Sufi Path, and I will explain a few points about this teaching of the Tree of Life and how it can aid our meditation.
“It has been confirmed that Khidr, peace be with him, said: ‘There are one thousand stations (maqām) between the servant of God and his Lord (mawlā).” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
The Qur’an speaks about this figure known as Khidr, who helped Moses, and Morya in The Lord God of Truth Within refers to this initiate as Melchizedek, the genii of the Earth, a great master.
“And a similar saying has been mentioned from Dhu-l-Nun al-Misri, Abu Yazid al-Bastāmi, al-Junayd, and Abu Bakr al-Kattāni―may God be pleased with them all. Dhu-l-Nun al-Misri said: ‘There are a thousand worlds’ [between the servant of God and his Lord], Abu Yazid and al-Junayd―may God bless their innermost selves, said: one thousand palaces,’ and Abu Bakr al-Kattāni said: ‘a thousand stations.’” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So whether 100 or 1000, these refer to initiations. There are ten spheres in this diagram, from מלכות Malkuth to כֶּתֶר Kether, and if you have read The Major Mysteries, Samael Aun Weor refers to these degrees in terms of esoteric time.
If you are in meditation and you ask a master or your being to tell you where are you at in your work, they will refer to you in your age. To be 99 years or younger refers to the Minor Mysteries. 10 to the first initiation of Minor Mysteries, 20 to the second initiation of Minor Mysteries, 30 to the third initiation of Minor Mysteries, up to the ninth, 90. And beyond that: 100 to a 1000 refer to these ten spheres of the tree of life, the Major Mysteries, and even beyond.
It is a symbol. It is a reference point. We need to know this map so that when we travel to these places in our work and, internally, we do not get lost, we do not get confused, because we cannot interpret our experiences literally. They are symbolic, abstract.
“God the Most High, says, ‘Is the person who follows the good pleasure of God like the person who brings to himself the wrath of God, whose dwelling is Hell?―A woeful refuge! (3:162) [Certainly] they are in varying degrees (darajāt) in the sight of God,’ (3:163) and those ‘ascending degrees’ mentioned in this Qur’anic verse are one thousand stations.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So study this diagram with a lot of patience. I only provide an overview of this to provide context for understanding what the different stations we will talk about, but also the qualities of the soul needed to master those states and to progress in our meditations.
“The journey to God is short, the journey in God is infinite”―ascending degrees, more knowledge, limitless wisdom, which is why Prophet Muhammed stated in Surah Ta Ha, verse 114: “My Lord! Increase me in knowledge!”
Way Stations and Abiding Stations
Abdullah Ansari of Herat explains that there are way stations and abiding stations. These stations are stopping places. They are levels, levels of Being, which always ascend higher and higher towards the divine. And even within the divine there are infinite degrees, levels of Being, which we seek to actualize. This quote explains how this is a very dynamic process, and that we must always strive forward in our work, to question in our meditations, “Where are we at? What must we do in our particular level so that we can renounce what is egotistical and ascend towards what is higher?
“And those one thousand stations are ‘stopping places’ which are traveled by those who are journeying toward God (Haqq) until the servant, having passed [and is helped to pass] through those ascending degrees stage by stage, is honored to be received into the proximity (qurb) of God.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So what is this proximity of God? There are levels to God, which is why we study the Tree of Life, because there are levels and levels of that light. As it is stated in the Qur’an, “Light upon light!” in Surah al-Nur: levels and levels of understanding, but always we want to go higher. That is the goal.
“Or the servant himself passes through one stopping place after another until he reaches the final stopping place, which for him is the field of proximity to God. The proximity he leaves behind is only ‘a way-station,’ while that [proximity] where he remains is the [abiding spiritual] ‘station’―like those stations of the angels in the heavens.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So many of us long to be close to God, to have that experience, to have that realization. We have to remember that we must travel, and traveling to a distant country that is foreign unfamiliar, dangerous, requires a lot of courage, a lot of work, striving, effort.
The stages of the path are way stations, and we wish to abide within the highest spiritual station, like the angels. And we have to remember that the Elohim or the angels, the buddhas, the Gods, whatever name we wish to use, were once like us. They did not begin from the heights. They rose from the mud. They polished their hearts with dhikr, remembrance of Allah, through meditating on their true nature.
One practice we can do is to meditate on the Tree of Life, to ask for clarification of what this diagram means to us. And to understand that these are way stations, places of travel that lead higher and higher. The path of divinity, of the gods, is in a much higher octave, degree, than what we can conceptualize here, and even with the Tree of Life.
We know that there are the ten spheres or sephiroth of the tree in which certain masters ascend, but even in the Absolute there are degrees and degrees and degrees, which are incomprehensible for us at our level. But we need to understand this conceptually, so that we know what the goal is―and to meditate on this for ourselves―to know the truth of it from experience.
"[As] God, the Most High, says, ‘And there is none among us but he has a known station, (37:164) (and in His saying) They seek a way of access to their Lord, which of them (might be) closest…’ (17:57).” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So even the gods, the angels, seek to go higher, and this can inspire us, and humble us―to remember that this path is a process. It is a patient work. Rumi, the great Sufi poet and initiate, explained this process in one of his poems. He talks about the process of the soul elevating higher and higher and higher through a process of the death of the ego.
"I died as a mineral and became a plant, I died as plant and rose to animal, I died as animal and I was Man. Why should I fear? When was I less by dying? Yet once more I shall die as Man, to soar With angels blest; but even from angelhood I must pass on: all except God doth perish. When I have sacrificed my angel-soul, I shall become what no mind e'er conceived. Oh, let me not exist! for Non-existence Proclaims in organ tones, To Him we shall return." ―Jalaluddin Muhammad Rumi
So what is that non-existence? It is referred to in the Kabbalah as the Absolute: Ain, Ain Soph, Ain Soph Aur―the cosmic space, the Truth, the infinite from which every world manifests.
Even the term الله Allah has a negating principle. لا Lah means “no” in Arabic. ال Al is the indefinite article “the.” الله Allah is the negative, “The No,” the negation of all that is not divinity. In order to reach those heights, we have to renounce, renounce, and renounce all that is imperfect in us. We must undergo fana, annihilation of the self so that we can subsist, baqa, within our eternal divine reality.
As Abdullah Ansari of Herat states:
“So each of these thousand stations is a waystation for the spiritual traveler (ravanda’), but a station (maqām) for the discoverer.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
The Six Conditions for Initiation
There are some initiates who are reaching certain heights while others are transcending those―degrees and degrees, a process. We have spoken a lot about Kabbalah and the tarot in synthesis. It is important to remember that the 22 arcana of the Tarot are synthesized in the Tree of Life. And there is one card in particular that can help us to understand what the Sufis wrote about the six conditions for initiation, of aiding our meditation.
If we wish to understand and experience this Tree of Life in its different modalities, expressions, principles, archetypes―we must practice six things according to the stations of the Sufi path.
“In those thousand stations, there is no escape from six things, even for the blink of an eye. These six things [conditions] are: respecting the divine command, fearing God’s tricks and ruse, seeking God’s forgiveness, actively respecting the sunna (the Prophetic Tradition), living in friendship and kindness, and being compassionate toward all creation.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So the sixth card of the tarot relates to these principles, and is a very wonderful diagram for understanding our situation, and how to really enter initiation, deeply, profoundly.
The sixth arcanum, the sixth law, refers to the lovers of the tarot. It is the soul caught between the ego and the divine. He is looking to his left, his left arm crossed over his right and his feet in the waters of the card, in the bottom third of this diagram, because he has fallen into temptation.
He represents us. We wish to enter the path, to understand the path, to practice it, to work, but we have ego. And the woman on the right of the card, or to the left of this initiate, is precisely naked, referring to her lasciviousness, her lust, which is his mind, his own ego, his nafs, his own lower soul.
To his right, a divine initiate, a woman, referring to the Divine Mother the sacred cow of Islam, Al-Baqarah. Above there is an angel aiming an arrow towards the whore, the prostitute, the naked woman of this arcanum, in order to slay her, and this teaches us the path, the path of meditation.
Meditation is for comprehending our own faults, eliminating our faults, and perfecting our soul. We do this through love, by loving our divinity. But of course, for that we must turn in repentance to our own inner divinity. But we see that the man’s face is towards the prostitute of this card. He is not facing the chaste, divine, beautiful woman on his right. The Qur’an speaks abundantly of turning to God, as having remorse. If we do not have remorse, it means that we do not respect the divine command: the laws of ethics of the soul.
Remember that the basis of meditation is founded on how we use our energy. Lust and love cannot mix. They are opposites. Desire says “me,” “what I want,” “what I crave,” “what I need,” and compassion says “you,” “what you need.” Lust fulfills itself. Love or compassion sacrifices for others.
1. Respecting the Divine Command
So what does it mean to respect the divine command? Since we have been studying the writings of Samael Aun Weor, the most specific command is chastity, sexual purity, renunciation of animal desire, fornication. We cannot enter initiation if we are losing our energies, sexually speaking. It means that we do not respect divinity and we are facing the whore of the sixth arcanum, feeding our animality, our lower soul.
beginning meditators often struggle with the reality of lust. This is precisely the path of Indecision, the name of this card. When we struggle to orient ourselves, we renounce lust, again and again, as we enter the stations of the path. Without an understanding of chastity, we cannot understand meditation, to rise to a new station. So we must learn to comprehend and have remorse: to really understand how our own desires create pain for ourselves, and for others.
2. Fearing God’s Tricks and Ruse
This has to do with the ordeals we receive as we are practicing meditation and chastity. These are struggles we have to face that come from divinity. If we do not receive hardship, we will never change. We will never confront the monster that is underneath the bed. Without these troubles and difficult situations in life, our defects will never spontaneously emerge so that we can see them.
This is a psychological gymnasium, which is why Arcanum 6 teaches us the following axiom: “Thou art giving me labor, oh Lord, and fortitude with it.” If you study the lectures on Lucifer, you will know this teaching very well―the tempter, that part of our psychology and divinity that places ordeals and challenges and temptations so that we can overcome them and grow. So this is what it means to fear God’s tricks and ruse, because we face ordeals, but if we don’t comprehend them and eliminate our defects, we end up in more suffering.
3. Seeking God’s Forgiveness
We also must learn to seek God’s forgiveness. Sincere remorse is essential. In meditation it is the crux of how we change, that feeling in the heart that we have made a mistake, and we wish to know how to work on that fault.
4. Actively Respecting the Sunnah (Prophetic Tradition)
And this is how we actively respect the sunnah, a prophetic tradition, the writings of any master or prophet, the life of the prophets, where we see by their examples and spiritual life, like in The Three Mountains by Samael Aun Weor, how to orient our heart when we are troubled.
5. Living in Friendship and Kindness and 6. Compassion Towards All Beings
But also living in kindness and friendship and being compassionate towards all creation. If we want to neutralize selfishness, desire, egocentrism, we must learn to sacrifice for other people. This is what drives us on the path of initiation, how we initiate, how we meditate on what we must change.
Spiritual Acts and Remembrance of God
Lastly, we will talk about spiritual acts and remembrance. Some people think of initiation and the Tree of Life as something abstract, outside of ourselves. But if we wish to really understand meditation, we have to study Kabbalah. We have to understand the symbols and how they apply to what is going on in our life, otherwise we are confused.
I’ll relate to an experience I had many years ago that can elucidate these concepts. I remember that I was meditating very deeply, sometimes hours a day, and I remember falling asleep in my chair in my bedroom. I awoke in the astral plane in my home where I was shown an instructional video. The words “the Path of the Self-realization of the Being” scrolled from left to right in front of my vision or screen.
I was next shown a diagram, ten spheres, which are aligned in two rows of five columns, different faces. Mine was at the bottom, far right. I saw figures that I can never forget―different qualities, or different expressions of different faces, or people, which at the time I did not understand.
I was never studious about Kabbalah in the beginning, but I was having meditation experiences that I could not explain. I remember seeing, particularly, figures in this diagram, portraits, associated with the Nordic pantheon, such as Wotan, father of the gods, in the far top left, and other faces associated with Germanic mythology. And I remember asking this question of an instructor who directed me to Kabbalah, the Tree of Life. I understood that each portrait or face in that glyph was a symbol of my Being: different faces or aspects of my own inner Truth, levels of initiation.
When I understood this symbol, I was relieved, and I had a lot of faith built from my understanding that I was being helped. I just needed the practical knowledge to interpret, and that is why in Kabbalah is essential to meditation, because I was confused. I knew this was from my inner divinity, because of my heart and what my soul was telling me, but when I verified in writing from the books, this reality, it solidified my faith and has helped me to progress through many years of work―to be patient.
In this process, we must always go higher, revise our understanding, self-reflect, which is why Al-Qushayri said in Principles of Sufism the following anecdote,
“I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say, “When al-Wasiti entered Nishapur, he asked the companions of Abu Uthman [al-Hiri], ‘What did your shaykh use to order you to do?’ They replied, ‘He used to order us to realize the necessity of acts of obedience and to see clearly how we fell short in them.’” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So while this pertains to our ethical discipline, of course, there are levels. We emphasize ethics always, but we must not get caught up in concepts, intellectualism, theories which is why:
Al-Wasiti exclaimed, ‘He ordered you to sheer fire-worship! Why did he not command you to be absent from these acts in the vision of their Originator and Further?’” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Meaning: why did he not teach you to learn how to act selflessly from the Being, to manifest those higher qualities in the vision and remembrance of the Truth? Levels of knowledge. Remember we spoke about Shariah, Tariqah, Marif’ah―ethical discipline, inner work, and the highest realizations.
Again in that Tree of Life, you can refer to the three trinities of that diagram: above, middle, and below. The top trinity formed by כֶּתֶר Kether, חָכְמָה Chokmah, בִּינָה Binah―the middle trinity: חֶסֶד Chesed, גְּבוּרָה Geburah, תִּפְאֶרֶת Tiphereth, and the bottom trinity: נצח Netzach, הוד Hod, and יְסוֹד Yesod. The three levels of Sufism correspond to the three trinities of Kabbalah: the Tree of Life. The top trinity relates to Marif’ah. The middle trinity relates to Tariqah: the path of the heart, and Shariah refers to the lower trinity, how we work with Netzach, our mind, Hod, our emotions, and Yesod, our energy―levels of knowledge and wisdom.
“Al-Wasiti only intended to safeguard these people against complacency (from being satisfied with their level of development), not to turn aside into realms of negligence (to abandon the ethical practices of our tradition) or to authorize infringement of a single one of the usages of religion.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So remember that the Tree of Life is very intricate. We will approach this glyph systematically to understand how these principles apply to our meditation. Even the terms used in Hebrew relate to the profound development of the consciousness, and so here we introduce these concepts, but we will open up the floor to any questions you may have.
Questions and Answers
Question: I was curious, you talked about having a map to know where you are right now, could you talk a little bit more about that?
Instructor: Yes. So, the Tree of Life is precisely the map of our consciousness, and where we are and what we must do.
So we know from our meditative practice that the lower five spheres of this diagram teaches about the quality of our soul. Malkuth in Hebrew means “Kingdom,” our body. When we meditate, we must learn to calm Malkuth.
We must also learn to relax and to work with our vital forces relating to Yesod, which in Hebrew means “Foundation,” the vital energies. We work with these vital energies through mantra, through prayer, through transmutation, sacred rites of rejuvenation, runes, many exercises that are provided in the writings of Samael Aun Weor.
We also learn to calm our emotions, withdraw our emotions from negativities, relating to Hod, the astral body, referring to “Splendor” in Hebrew, the splendor of the heart, the compassion of the heart.
As we calm our emotional center, we also let the mind exhaust itself, relating to Netzach, “Victory.” Sometimes Samael Aun Weor mentions how one who conquers his or her mind is victorious, a buddha, and so the mind always wanders from thing to thing, associative thinking.
We must learn to control our mind with willpower. We are referring to Tiphereth, which in Hebrew means “Beauty,” the beauty of the soul: profound, intuitive, beautiful action. It does not mean a will that is enmeshed in desire, because in most cases for us, our will is conditioned. We tend to be very weak willed in our studies, especially in the beginning. But through these exercises of meditation, concentration practice, relaxation, pranayama, we learn to fortify our will with divine force.
And even when we sit to practice meditation, we can look at this glyph. We can meditate on this diagram and question: where are we in our work? What are we stuck in? Most people do not even get past the physical body. They are always moving their Malkuth. The body, the earth, is always moving. Our inner earth, our body, Malkuth, must always be still when we meditate.
Some people work with energy after relaxing the body, work with Yesod. Other times we are caught up with negative emotion relating to Hod, or our mind is too active, chattering, Netzach. And sometimes we need to develop more will, more divine will, action that always serves, submits to divinity, referring to Chesed, the Being, the Innermost in Hebrew, meaning “Mercy.” And the divine soul, Geburah in Hebrew, referring to “Justice,” the mercy and justice of divinity, which always knows how to act in any situation.
Of course, to go higher requires work, but in a simple way, this diagram teaches us where we are. And if we learn to really investigate those spheres in the internal dimensions, we can receive even more profound guidance, and be instructed as to what we have to work on.
Remember that the science of dream yoga is geared to understanding our own experiences in life. Initiation is our own life, lived intensely, with rectitude and with love. So if we awaken consciousness in those higher regions of nature, we can be shown our level of being, our qualities of mind, our defects that we have to work on, so that when we return to our physical body from sleep, we are charged, we are inspired, because we are receiving the inner guidance of our own inner divinity.
So that is a representation of what the stations are, and they can refer to virtues. They can refer to the sephiroth, the Tree of Life. And remember that each sphere of this Kabbalistic glyph refers to qualities of Being and the soul, such as justice and mercy, beauty, victory, splendor, foundations of work relating to energy, and the kingdom that encompasses all of it. So it is a very beautiful diagram that can teach us much. We will go into aspects of this glyph progressively, in this course, in order to relate certain qualities that can help us understand how to work more effectively.
Audience: That is great, very helpful, thank you.
Instructor: You are welcome.
The following transcription is from an audio lecture on Sufi Principles of Meditation, a course originally delivered live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
The most important principle of meditation, of genuine religion, is precisely the present moment. Studying Kabbalah, the Tree of Life, astrology, Kundalini, tantra, alchemy, the eternal tarot, the scriptures, all this will amount to nothing if we do not comprehend the moment we are in.
The teachings are vastly complex. The terms we use, the knowledge we reference, is highly technical, sophisticated, profound. Yet, despite this complexity, this vastness, all this knowledge can be synthesized into a very simple point, which is awareness of the present.
True knowledge is experienced. It is experiential. It is found here and now, not in some distant future or by reflecting only upon the past. It is found in the moment.
All traditions, all meditative disciplines teach the doctrine of the moment, since this is the key for realization, knowledge of divinity, experience of the truth. Samael Aun Weor, in The Elimination of Satan's Tail wrote the following:
“To achieve the stillness and silence of the mind, it is necessary to know how to live from instant to instant, to know how to take advantage of each moment, to not live the moment in doses.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Elimination of Satan’s Tail
All traditions of meditation teach that the origin of suffering is a lack of awareness of who we are, how we behave, what we are doing now. We have to be reflective. In Gnosticism, in the writings of Samael Aun Weor, we learn that we must know who we are, where we come from, where we are at.
Let us examine ourselves. How conscious are we throughout the day? This is not a matter of possessing vitality in the morning when we wake up, in order to be physically active. Wakefulness, vigilance, attention, awakening, is a direct state of perception of this instant, the moment we find ourselves in. So, how aware are we throughout the day? Are we awake from moment to moment? Are we attentive to what we are doing here and now?
Are we examining ourselves in whatever stage or action we are involved in? Or do we think of other things? Do we daydream? Do we fantasize? Do we worry?
Whenever we think of other things: planning, expecting, day dreaming, remembering, instead of focusing our attention on where we are at, what we are doing, it means our consciousness is asleep. We are not awake. We are dreaming.
Imagine that you are washing dishes. If we are cleaning dishes in our kitchen, but thinking of our loved ones, our friends, our family, we ignore what we are doing. We forget what we are doing. And in this way, we cut ourselves. Perhaps with a knife because we are not attentive to what we are doing in the kitchen. This is a very simple example of a profound truth: that when we lack attention in moments of critical engagement with life, we hurt ourselves.
What happens with people when they drive their car and they don't pay attention to the road? People have ended up in accidents or have killed themselves, injured others, because they are not awake. They were on their cell phone, daydreaming, thinking of other things, not focused on what they were doing.
So, there are serious consequences when we don't pay attention, and this is our chronic state. We have no cognizance of where we are or what we do, and because we act unconsciously upon negative thoughts, negative feelings, negative impulses, we produce suffering. We harm ourselves and others spiritually. It is this lack of comprehension of our internal states that produces all the sorrow of humanity.
The origin of pain is the "I." It is our sense of self that acts mechanically, that always thinks and behaves in accordance to hypotheses, theories, opinions, beliefs. The mind does not know the truth, because it is the past. This sense of self, the ego, the "I," is memory, according to Samael Aun Weor.
The Sufis refer to the self, the ego, as nafs, nafas, which can mean “breath,” a type of energy which works upon the mind. It is the expression of our words when they are filled with hatred, with envy, with pride. Someone who is awake and aware does not rely on the ego, does not speak the utterances of desire. In that way we avoid pain.
This is the beginning and the end of religion. It is found in this moment. Because when we pay attention to the present, when we observe our thoughts, our feelings, our impulses, we can access states of being that truly are inaccessible or comprehensible for people who know nothing of the soul, who are identified with pride, with lust, with hatred, with vanity, etc.
We speak in these studies of self-observation and self-remembering. The Sufis referred to self-observation as inner accounting, muhasabah: to make an account of our defects so that by discovering our defects, they may become dead defects. We have to learn to see ourselves in the moment, not to think we are a certain way or to assume, but to perceive. This is how we study the book of our life.
We look, we introspect the examined. We observe our mind, our heart, and our impulses, our behaviors. This is the beginning of religion, and you can only find it here in this instant.
But self-observation is not enough. This must be combined with presence of God, remembrance of divinity. This is a profound state of awareness known as hudur in Arabic: the presence of God, the presence of divinity. This is accessed through muhadarah, awareness of the present.
Many Gnostic students write to us and ask us, how do I remember my divinity? How do I know that I am observing myself correctly? The question unveils the answer. Self-observation and remembrance are not intellectual exercises. They are found when we stop thinking, when we learn to look―to look from a space between thought, when we were not identified with an idea, with a concept. Remembrance of God is a quality, a crystal, pristine fountain of divine states. We know this state and we experience it, especially in a moment when we are in a crisis, when all the elements of the psyche are mixed, churning; when we are boiling with ordeals, because anyone on this path must face crises so that the ego comes to the surface. This is why the Quran states:
“And We shall test you until We know those among you who strive and those who are patient, and We shall test your proclamations.” ―Muhammad (47:31)
“And We will surely test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient…” ―Al-Baqarah, “The Cow” (2:155).
“Every soul will taste death. And We test you with evil and with good as trial; and to Us you will be returned.” ―Al-Anbiya “The Prophets” (21:35)
We face hardships so that the ego emerges, but the question remains, what desire or what will do we act upon? In a moment when we are criticized, lied to, spat upon, hated. What behavior do we enact?
This is not an intellectual exercise. It is a quality of mind. It is a decision we make in the moment. Do we respond with anger, with self-esteem, with resentment, with pride? Or do we choose a better way of behaving? Conscious love, compassion, forgiveness, serenity and wisdom is the way.
We achieve serenity and wisdom when we don't act on the mind. When in that crisis of being criticized or insulted, we remain calm. We don't allow our external behavior to manifest with anger, but on a deeper level, we learn to introspect and not act upon anger in the mind.
This is why meditation is essential. This is why the present moment is fundamental. We have to be aware of where we are at; who we are; what we are doing. Because, the gospel of the moment, the doctrine of the moment, is precisely defined and written in the book of our deeds.
When we choose virtuous action, especially in those moments when, really, our desires and our ego want to retaliate, we gain wisdom when we act ethically―when we comprehend that our pride, that our hatred, is wrong. And in that way, we remember God. We contemplate God. We realize that to act with anger is to be unethical. Is to be a demon; to be a failure. But to allow virtue to spontaneously flourish, to let intuitive action emerge from the presence of our heart, we find happiness and we avoid problems.
This is why Samael Aun Weor in The Elimination of Satan's Tail:
“Take everything from each moment, because each moment is a child of Gnosis, each moment is absolute, alive and significant. Momentariness is a special characteristic of the Gnostics. We love the philosophy of momentariness.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Elimination of Satan’s Tail
So when people ask this question: how do I self-observe? How do I self-remember? It shows that we are not being spontaneous. These principles are understood by looking in ourselves here and now. It is spontaneity. It is alive: the doctrine of Gnosis, knowledge. You only gain understanding by looking at yourself.
When we look to the intellect for answers, we vacillate, we hesitate, we make mistakes. In a moment, we may think in a crisis that a certain action will be best, and yet our heart tells us otherwise. And because we don't act upon the intuitions of our heart, we go along with the intellect and justify ourselves. Meanwhile, we feel remorse and realize later that we acted wrongly.
So instead of hesitating about what to do in those moments, we have to learn to follow our heart. It is a quality of the heart. Remembrance of God is in the heart, within the soul. This is what it means to live intuitively, to live with intelligence, because the intellect cannot solve problems. It can store information. It can theorize. It can conceptualize, but it cannot know an answer.
So we have to remember this presence, to learn what this presence is. It is the wisdom of our own conscience: our heart that tells us this is right, and this is wrong. The more we feed that conscience, the stronger it gets. The more we deny that conscience in the moment, the more we suffer.
This is why the Sufis taught, especially through the writings of Rumi, "My friend, the Sufi is the son of the present moment. To say ‘tomorrow’ is not our way."
Defining the Moment
Let us define what the present moment is.
In our tradition, we spend a lot of time talking about self-observation and self-remembering. We do so through analyzing the lines of life and being.
The line of life is time. It is birth, life, and death. It is mechanical. It is the events of our existence that repeat mechanically through recurrence. It is our daily experience from morning to evening. It is a repetition. It is a cycle which the Buddhists call samsara: cycling. And in this way, we travel through life from our birth to our death, but usually without any understanding.
The line of being is very different. These are the qualities of the soul, the qualities of consciousness. These are the superior states of being, which are elevated and known by the Tree of Life of the Kabbalah. This is a map of our soul, of our Being, of our identity. These are the superior qualities that the Sufis state in their doctrine, in manuals such as Kashf al-Mahjub, Revelation of the Mystery by Al-Hujwiri and also the states and stations the path mentioned by many masters such as Al-Qushayri and Abdullah Ansari of Herat, of whom I will be quoting today.
These are the states and stations in the path. Each sphere or sephiroth is a quality of being, which is many elements, many principles. And so, the states and stations of the path are mapped by the Hebraic Kabbalah in a very intuitive way.
Now, we will be exploring how those principles relate to this diagram extensively, but in synthesis we state, the superior states of being are the sephiroth, the Tree of Life, and the inferior states of being are the Tree of Zaqqum mentioned in the Qur’an. This is the tree of death: the inverted spheres, the Klipoth, the hell realms.
Heaven and hell are states of being, and yet there are also places in nature that we access when we are sleeping in the dreaming state.
The law of attraction determines our life. What we are psychologically attracts where we go in nature. We always follow the trajectory of our mental stream, our mind, our behaviors. Virtuous people associate with virtuous people. Demonic people with demonic people. Everybody likes to talk about in these times of the law of attraction, about getting what you want, fulfilling desire. And yet people fail to realize that while this is true―we associate with people at our level of being―it doesn't mean that we should follow just desire, egotism.
Instead in our studies, we seek to change our level of being, our psychology in this instant, of where we are at. If we wish to access the Tree of Life, the heavenly dimensions, we do so by being in the moment―being present―which is why Al-Qushayri states the following in his book Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism:
“I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say that the “now”―waqt―is that in which you are. If you are in the world, your “now” is this world. If you are in the next world (the higher dimensions of the Tree of Life), your “now” is the next world. If you are in joy, your “now” is joy. If you are in sorrow, your “now” is sorrow. He means by this that the present moment is that which has dominance over a person.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Many people wanted to experience the higher dimensions, the Tree of Life, astral projections, jinn experiences, awakened knowledge, but often what they fail to do is practice in their daily life: vigilance, to be aware of the present, because one who is awakening physically in their daily state―that is no longer acting mechanically―that introspection and vigilance occurs within the internal planes until the present moment dominates.
Usually the moment defines us, and not the other way around. We suffer mechanically through circumstances, never knowing how to change our reactions to life. It is only when we learn to be aware of this instant that we can transform our state and ascend to higher levels of being.
Samael Aun Weor mentions that the ability to originate new circumstances, to no longer be a slave to the line of life, following, repeatedly, mechanically, the process of birth, life, and death, and then on repeat, to return―the law of return, transmigration―we can escape the mechanism of life by following epigenesis, which is “the ability to originate new circumstances."
Because we usually repeat things moment-by-moment, primarily because we are not aware of the “now.” Situations, events, people, dramas, tragedies, comedies: these incessantly repeat. If we want to transform the situation, we have to be aware of this instant, our internal states. We have to be aware of the instant, our states in relation to external events, because this is the requirement for the moment.
Requirements for the Moment
The Sufis use the technical term 'waqt' to define the present. They explain that superior or inferior action always depends upon the present. Our state of mind and what we decide in the moment determines our trajectory. We have to be aware of the impressions of life and what we experience, but also our internal state.
Al-Qushayri states in his Principles of Sufism the following,
“Waqt (the present moment) may refer specifically to the time in which one is. Some people say that the present moment is between the two times, that is, the past and the future.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So these constitute the line of life. We must decide to enact the qualities of the being or animal desires.
“And they say that the Sufi is the “son of his moment.” This means that he occupies himself immediately with whatever sort of devotion should come first in a given moment. He bases himself upon what is required of him at the time. It is said, “The dervish cares for neither the past nor the future of his moment: he cares for the moment in which he is.” And regarding this, “To be preoccupied with what escaped you in a moment that has passed is to waste a second moment.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Real devotion is remembrance of divinity in the present instant. It is only here and now. Now we can fulfill divine action, but if we are distracted, asleep, unconscious, we cannot respond ethically to the moment. So this is what Shari’ah is, the law, the instruction. The code of ethical conduct. We have to learn to be in the instant, to respond with ethics, with compassion, with wisdom. If we feel shame for having acted unethically, even if only in our mind, then we are distracted with the past. We must be present with our being and not be preoccupied with the past, to be conscious here and now. This is the essence of worship.
So people think that worship is something external. We always do so according to many mainstream religions, by attending a mosque, a church, synagogue, a temple. In reality, we have to learn to worship divinity in our actions. We do so by becoming aware of God.
The Governance of the Present
“The best act of worship is watchfulness of the moments. That is, that the servant not look beyond his limit, not contemplate anything other than his Lord, and not associate with anything other than his present moment.” ―Al-Wasiti, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
To not look beyond our limit means to follow our intuition: to not speculate “how I must act,” but know it in our heart.
Everybody struggles with the mind. The mind says one thing, the heart another. This is why Samael Aun Weor stated, "We must learn to think with the heart and feel with the head.” Intuition is an act of consciousness and plenitude, where the ego is not present.
Contemplation of God exists as we observe ourselves and no longer act upon the ego. We learn to speak and behave ethically, from a state of serenity, altruism, compassion, generosity. When we associate with anything other than the present, it means that we are unconscious. We are dreaming. We are thinking. We are associating other things with the present, meaning: we are driving our car, but we are associating in our mind with our job, thinking of our previous work day, or anticipating the future, or thinking of what a solution could be for a problem. These are beliefs, ideas, concepts, justifications. These elements cloud our perception of what we are doing in the moment.
The Muslims speak abundantly of not associating with anything other than God. The Qur’an speaks, many times, of “Far be He from that which they associate with Him!" Or: “Glory to Allah! He is free from the things they ascribe to Him!” (37:159).
So we included the calligraphy of Allah in Arabic in this slide to talk about the governance of the present, primarily because we have to learn to allow the Being to act through us. Of course, for some people this may seem like a very difficult endeavor, or better said, an impossible one. Many students ask us, how do I remember God? And we always answer very simply: Did your behavior produce suffering or happiness? What are the results in our midstream? The qualities of our mind?
Self-observation, inner-accounting, muhasabah, is when we take account of our defects, but remembrance of the presence of God, Hudur, is something qualitative; something psychological, spiritual. You learn to taste it by striving towards it again and again, by learning to overcome and not act upon the ego, as was mentioned by that quote from Al-Wasati.
“The best act of worship is watchfulness of the moment.” Don't look beyond your limit. Don't try to contemplate anything else than the present. If you are in this instant, don't think about some miraculous samadhi in the clouds when we can't even pay attention to tying our shoes. You learn to access those higher states by being aware of the most mundane things, which is not really so mundane if we are attentive. It is a quality of the new, alert novelty: when we see life in a new way.
The reality is that no one can teach you how to remember God. You do so through deep reflection on your internal states―by discriminating and analyzing in meditation the suffering of wrong action and the happiness of liberated action. When we learn to act without egotism, we are following our intuition, the voice of conscience, the heart doctrine. This is when we follow al-Haqq, the Truth, the Being.
The following quote is from the Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri.
“The Sufis also may use waqt to mean the power and direction of the Truth when it comes over them regardless of their own will. They say, “So-and-so is under the rule of the now,” (bi hukm il-waqt)―that is, he has surrendered himself without preference to whatever appears to him from the unknown.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
What is the unknown? The Being, the Truth. As Samael Aun Weor mentions, it is the unknowable from moment to moment. God is infinite and his states are a perfect multiple unity. Divinity as a unity is perfect, is integral, but the qualities of divinity are infinite―described by qualities such as altruism, patience, diligence, compassion, love.
Real Islam is when we submit to the qualities of God in the moment, and knowing how to act rightly in a crisis, in the instant, which is intuitive action. It doesn't mean that we follow a reason in the intellect, necessarily, but following an ethical conduct: the voice of our conscience in our heart.
When Muslims pray to the East towards Mecca, towards the stone, the Kaaba of the alchemists―the stone of la baca: the sacred cow, or the stone of the masons, Yesod―they do so by bowing their head to the earth. This is a beautiful symbol of allowing the Being to control the mind.
We have to submit our head to the East, towards the divine, a symbol of learning to be present in the moment. So in terms of salat, ritual prayer, Muslims bow their head to the East. It signifies how we have to obey the commands of our intuition, even when it is painful for our ego. This is Islam [submission], and this is what leads to salam, peace. When we act upon our conscience and our heart, we find true peace and serenity. We resolve problems. We find solutions, but knowing how to find that answer is very difficult, especially in the moment, which is why we have to meditate.
We have to reflect upon our day and to understand how we behaved internally, externally. This is how we learn to govern the present moment more effectively, when those situations and events repeat, so that we can comprehend more. We have to learn to submit to the inner voice of our divine Being, whom only we can recognize. We have to follow our intuition, even if it makes our mind scream with pain. This is the path of crucifixion mentioned by Jesus. We have to accept our internal states and also question what we see so that we can act rightly.
“So-and-so is under the rule of the now,” (bi hukm il-waqt)―that is, he has surrendered himself without preference to whatever appears to him from the unknown.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
This means that the mind is receptive. The heart is receptive. We are awake. We are vigilant. The mind is serene, so that in the waters of our psyche, the pure images of heaven can reflect. Therefore, we have no preference to what God gives us. We obey God. We become a vehicle of the divine. That is what it means to be governed in the present, by a profound state of samadhi, ecstasy, wujud, here and now.
To reach these states, we have to be practical meditators. We have to really sift through the mud of the mind, so that we gain more clarity day by day, year by year. This is a very important aspect of Sufism and meditation. To access intuitive states in the daily moment of our life, but also in our meditations, especially. You cannot have one without the other.
“This can apply only to circumstances where God Most High has given no order, and where there is no model in the Divine Ordinance that one is obliged to follow.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
What this quote references is that some situations in life are more mundane. There is no crisis there. We are dealing with our daily obligations, our chores. It is not necessary that we receive a divine ordinance or command that we must follow in a particular ordeal.
Sometimes the Being, as we are in the process of self-realization, enters into us, but also retracts. It comes into my mind a story of the Master Samael Aun Weor, who even towards the end of his life, his last incarnation, before the advent of resurrection, he had no ego, but he went to go give a lecture in a large auditorium in South America where his Being entered him, according to one missionary. He was speaking with a lot of force, commanding and speaking to the audience and providing his teaching from the Logos Samael, the Martian Christ. And yet later, this missionary who told me the story went up to the Master Samael after the lecture, and saw that Samael Aun Weor was very calm and even childlike. He didn't have that Martian, powerful, commanding force that he exemplified in the lecture.
And this missionary explained, it is because during the lecture, the Being had to give a teaching, entering into him in the present moment and provided the knowledge that was so necessary for us. Then the Being retracts. This is known as absence and presence in Sufism, Ghaybah and Hudur, respectively.
Sometimes even at the very heights, the Being enters through us, but also retracts. But if we are serious about the work, eventually the Being will be fully present, always. That is achieved at the end of the Second Mountain as taught within our courses of initiation.
So we have to learn to follow the commands of God when it is given to us through our heart through our emotional center, especially―our superior emotions, our intuition.
“For to neglect that to which you have been ordered, to make an order an object of surmise, and to be indifferent to your falling short of your duty, is to depart from the religion.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So how often in our experience have we received an intuition that we speculated about? We knew the right thing, but we didn't do it, and only realized later with remorse that we failed do the do the right thing. This is what it means to speculate: to make an order from God a surmise―to let the intellect think and rationalize―every excuse to not do that thing, to not act intuitively, to not follow our heart. This is how we betray God.
This is emphasized in the story of Pilate who justified the execution of Jesus. He washed his hands clean. That is our intellect, a symbol of our mind. We speculate about an intuition we receive, and we don't do the right thing. And also “to be indifferent to falling short in our duty,” to not feel remorse, is to depart from religion.
So this is the path of demons. People who feel no remorse in this instant are disconnected. They are al-kafirin, “the unbelievers” mentioned in the Qur’an.
The Moment is a Sword
The moment is a sword. It depends upon our behaviors how we use that weapon. It defends the righteous and harms the wicked.
As I have been saying, our actions determine our life. In a moment, we could defend our virtue, our soul, our life, with a virtuous action, even in the worst circumstances―or we suffer spiritual death. We fall upon our own sword by acting with anger, perversity, wrath.
“One of the sayings of the Sufis is, “The moment is a sword.” That is, in just the way that a sword severs, the present moment shows forth the influence of God’s action, ending things and bringing them to be.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
As we explained previously, states emerge, they sustain, they pass. Events also emerge, they sustain, and pass. Our divinity is the one who arranges, for the initiates, the path of the moment: the beginning and the end. Our decisions are either to follow God or our desires. They determine where we go. What happens to us.
“It is said, ‘The touch of the flat of a sword is temperate, but its blade cuts’―the one who treats it gently is safe and the one who treats it rudely is destroyed. Thus with the “now”: Whoever submits himself to its authority is saved and whoever resists it deteriorates and declines. They have recited about this:
“Like a sword, if you polish it, its touch is soothing
But its edge, if you are harsh to it, is harsh.”
―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
This is a beautiful teaching. If you polish your consciousness, with dhikr, remembrance of God, with meditation, with comprehension of the ego, the moment is soothing like a sword. It's touch is temperate, cool, but it's edge, if we are harsh in the moment by acting upon the moment, it is harsh. We cut ourselves. We feel pain.
“If the moment makes someone happy,
it is just a moment to him.
If it makes him miserable, it becomes something hateful.”
―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So this is very beautiful. Very simple. The one who treats it gently is safe and the one who treats it really is destroyed. “Thus with the now, whoever submits himself to its authority is saved and whoever resists it deteriorates and declines.”
Self-remembrance is not complicated. If it sounds complicated or we think it is difficult, it is because we are approaching it with our intellect. Happiness is a state of the soul. It is not an intellectual concept, although we have many terms and stories and anecdotes to relate these principles. A moment that makes us happy is one, really, in which we stop thinking, stop daydreaming, stop reminiscing about the past or thinking of the future, but learning to act here and now.
The Sword of the Seekers
"Remembering God with the heart is called the sword of the seekers. With it the seeker slays his enemies [egos, defects, nafs] and drives off [karmic] troubles that are headed for him." ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
It is by remembering God here and now, that we slay our enemies, which are the egos, the defects, or the nafs in Arabic―and, “drive off karmic troubles that are headed for us.” Meditation, astral projection, sacred rites of rejuvenation, runes, pranayama, alchemy: all these exercises are predicated on what we are doing here and now―how present we are when we practice.
Remembrance of God is a sword. Our states determine our life, and if we do not remember God, we act upon states of egotism. Again, God is not outside, but is inside. As the Quran teaches, "Truly We are closer to you than your jugular vein” (50:16).
By remembering that presence in us, we learn through practical life how to slay our enemies, our negative states, our defects as we are meditating, and drive off troubles that are headed for us, because if circumstances repeat, as karma and troubles emerge in our life that we have to resolve, if we respond or react with negativity, we exacerbate our pain. We complicate our issues. But if we act from serenity, we defend ourselves.
“Even if difficulty should overshadow the servant, his fleeing to God Most High in his heart immediately turns away from him the thing he hates.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Here we have an image of Saint Michael conquering the dragon, a symbol of how our soul can conquer our lower self. And notice that as he is wielding of this sword of justice, he is in a perfect state of equanimity. Remembrance of God is calm, is serene, is balanced. It is only through clear perception and serenity, awareness in the present, that we know how to act in the spontaneity of the moment.
Psychological States and External Events
Samael Aun Weor mentions in Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology, how the best method for overcoming suffering is an appropriate psychological state:
“The best weapon that a human being can use in life is a correct psychological state.
“One can disarm beasts and unmask traitors by means of appropriate internal states.” ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
So perhaps at our job, with our friends, with our family, with our spouse, somebody approaches us with hatred, with anger, with violence. If we learn to act with an appropriate psychological state, we can disarm the situation, dismantle aggression, because serenity is a much more crushing force than anger. We can unveil the truth by acting with states of sincerity, with altruism, with integrity
"Wrong internal states convert us into defenseless victims of human perversity." ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
So if we face a crisis and yet we act with ego, at our job, in our career, we become defenseless. We become weak. People and their ego overwhelm us. We become victims of life, unable to act and orient the ship of our existence. We become slaves of suffering.
"You must learn to face the most unpleasant events of practical life with an appropriate internal uprightness.
“You must not become identified with any event. Remember that everything passes away.
“You must learn to look at life like a movie; thus you shall receive the benefits.
“You must not forget that if you do not eliminate mistaken internal states from your psyche, then events of no value could bring you disgrace." ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
This means we are practicing retrospection meditation. We have to learn to comprehend the ego in the moment, observe ourselves instant by instant, moment by moment, acting upon Shari’ah, ethics. We must not identify with any event, because that wastes energy. We must not identify with external circumstances or our egotistical reactions, but to observe it like a movie so that we acquire data, information. And then later in the evening, or later in our day, we meditate upon what we saw and ask for comprehension and elimination of mistaken states from divinity.
"Unquestionably, each external event needs its appropriate fare, that is, its precise psychological state." ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
Internal states must match external events. This is a very difficult concept to understand with the intellect, but it is something where we access and gain confidence in through meditation, reflection.
Every event needs its appropriate response. Impressions of life always enter us and we are always obligated to respond. We have to examine what states in us produce conflict, which are wrong, which are negative, but also to reflect on the virtues of the soul, to understand that which benefits oneself and others in a conscious way―in a spiritual way.
The Metaphysical Moment
This is the definition of the metaphysical moment as taught by Abdullah Ansari of Herat, who was a master from the Persian tradition of Sufism. He wrote in his Stations of the Sufi Path, a beautiful teaching about different levels of the moment as understood by levels of meditators, initiates.
God, the Most High, says, “Then did you come hither as ordained, O Moses!” (20:40). ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
Moses was a prophet, but he also symbolizes the principle of liberated will: a consciousness that knows how to act here and now. And in the path of initiation, Moses is associated with the causal body: the body of will power within the sixth dimension, nirvana, the sphere of Tiphereth on the Tree of Life.
It is that type of will which is liberated that knows how to perform miracles, feats of magic, which is in the positive sense, the control of elements of nature, in accordance with the will of God. So while Muslims reject anything resembling magic or magical ceremony, the truth is that the prophets were all magicians. They represented for us the magic of the Being, the magic of a purified will.
So "Then did you come hither as ordained, O Moses!" (20:40).
Meaning, “You obeyed My command,” said the Being, because at that level of a master, one can receive direct knowledge and know what to do. In our level we tend to be very confused. We have an intuition in our heart, but because we don't listen to it. We tend to commit many errors and suffer the consequences.
Let us examine the different levels of the metaphysical moment, waqt:
“The metaphysical moment or time constitutes an instant in which nothing but God can be contained.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
This has to do with being absorbed in divine states, in which we don't identify with anything but that state of bliss of divinity, whether in meditation or even in daily life, which we cultivate little by little.
“The people of the metaphysical moment are three groups. For one, the metaphysical moment is like a flash of lightning, for another, it is lasting, while for another, it is overwhelming.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
These are degrees as indicated by the levels of Sufism, of instruction, of understanding.
There are introductory levels known as Shari’ah, the exoteric, the law of ethics, discipline, restraint of mind.
There is an intermediate path known as Tariqa, the mesoteric level. Tariqa can also refer to a Sufi school, and there are different Tariqas that provide the knowledge of Sufism.
Then there is an advanced knowledge or wisdom, Haqiqah / Marifah.
So for one, the metaphysical moment is like a flash of lightning for those in the introductory level. In the beginning of our path, we get insight, little by little, like a flash of lightning. We have moments of intuition and understanding, which are spontaneous. They emerge and they vanish quickly. However, we become inspired because we realize that we are perceiving God at our level, in a very basic way. This is the very beginnings of practice, which we cultivate through ethics, Shari'ah and meditation.
For the middle group, it is lasting, because for those who are really working seriously in Tariqa, a path or discipline, the mesoteric level, are making their intuitions and experiences much more consistent. Therefore the light lasts longer for them, because they are generating more light.
But for the advanced initiates, the Prophets, the Gods, the metaphysical moment is overwhelming, because that state is constant for them. This is the level of Beings like Prophet Muhammad, Moses, Jesus, Samael Aun Weor.
So obviously most of us will be in the introductory level. We gain insights here and there. We do so by learning to follow our intuition and our ethics as best we can, so that we can get more wisdom and light.
But the intermediate levels and the advanced levels are for those who are really practicing daily, seriously, for an extensive period of time.
The Three Degrees of the Moment
Abdullah Ansari of Herat also elaborates on these three stages and what they entail―from the introductory, the intermediate, and advanced levels.
For the introductory level, practitioners, “The moment that is like a flash of lightning is purifying, washing away defects.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
In the beginning, we have to learn to wash away defects. We have to observe ourselves in the day and at night, or when we practice retrospection meditation: getting comprehension like a flash of lightning and purifying our psyche. For after comprehension comes annihilation, when working with the Divine Mother, Al-Baqarah, the sacred cow mentioned in the second surah of the Qur’an.
“The moment that is lasting is awe-inspiring and keeps one occupied.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So as we are working with the death of the ego, with Tariqa, our metaphysical moments are ecstasies. They become lasting, awe inspiring and keep us occupied. What does it mean to be occupied? It means that, whether physically or the internal planes, we are awake. We are busy. I have known missionaries in Gnosis, in our tradition, who have had many beautiful samadhis, many experiences, and personally when I have been in such states, I have been very occupied in what I have been experiencing in the astral plane, the mental plane, etc. This fills us with awe.
People who are unconscious and asleep are lazy. They are not occupied. They are unconscious. They go to bed for eight hours and wake up in the morning without awareness of what happened. This is the level of profound sleep, the path of ignorance. When we have those experiences we become filled with awe, but that light only emerges and sustains based on purification, Shari'ah, ethics.
"The moment that is overwhelming destroys and annihilates." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So the moment of annihilation and destruction is of the self. This is the path of Haqiqah / Marifah, in which all sense of self is lost in the Being. This is the experience of the Truth in the highest degrees of the Tree of Life, the highest sephiroth of that diagram.
Let us examine the other requisites and degrees in the moment.
"The moment like a flash of lightning arises from contemplative reflection (fikrat)." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
For the beginner level, that flash of intuition and lightning comes about through self-observation in meditation, contemplative reflection, or serene reflection mentioned in the writings of Samael Aun Weor. We have to contemplate ourselves and reflect daily.
"The moment that is lasting arises from delight in divine remembrance and invocation." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So what does it mean to feel delight in divine remembrance and invocation? It means that we have our true joy through the work, when we are consistent, when we are defined.
That wisdom lasts in us as we take delight in the Gnostic work, when we love the Gnostic esoteric work above all things, when we invoke God every instant of our life, asking for understanding―praying for wisdom, moment-by-moment, instant-by-instant.
"The moment that is overwhelming arises from the audition of spiritual vision." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
This is the level of Marifah / Haqiqah: Knowledge and Truth.
The moment that is overwhelming emerges from the audition of spiritual vision, from hearing and seeing the superior worlds, not only just from the lower sephiroth of the Tree of Life, but the top trinity and beyond. If you look at the Kabbalah, you remember that we have ten spheres―three trinities and then the lower sphere Malkuth, which is the physical body.
The levels of Sufism relate to the Tree of Life in these trinities.
The lower triangle, Yesod, Hod, and Netzach relate to our ethics (Shari’ah) because it is in those spheres where the ego manifests. They learn to control Netzach, our mind; Hod, our emotions; Yesod, our sexual energy. That is working with Shari'ah, the law, when we work with those elements consciously.
Tariqa, “the wisdom that lasts,” relates to the middle trinity: Chesed, Geburah, Tiphereth.
Chesed, the Being, the Spirit, the Innermost, Mercy; Geburah, divine consciousness; and Tiphereth, the human soul. This is the path of Tariqa, the heart, when we really remember God at that level.
And lastly, spiritual vision, which is the height: Haqiqah, the Truth and Marifah, Knowledge, relates to the top trinity of the Tree of Life. Al-Haqq can relate to Kether, Chokmah, Binah: supreme wisdom, intelligence, and the glory of divinity. But also Marifah, which is knowledge, relates with the sphere of Da’ath, alchemy, Allah-Khemia: to fuse with Allah.
If you are interested in learning more about how Sufism speaks about alchemy, you could study our lecture, Divine Love on chicagognosis.org, especially the course: The Sufi Path of Self Knowledge, from which is listed.
"The moment that is overwhelming arises from the audition of spiritual vision." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
Audition refers to hearing, and usually the Sufis speak about spiritual dance and listening to beautiful music with recitations of the Qur’an and other Sufi poetry.
This verse also has something much more profound related to it. What is spiritual audition? It has to do with, again recitation, the verb, with music: all that relates to the sphere of Da’ath on the Tree of Life, the hidden sephirah, which is the origin of spiritual vision: the science and mysteries of the perfect matrimony.
To reach those supreme heights of the spiritual moment, to know how to work with the highest degrees in the moment, obviously one has to be married. So that one becomes annihilated by the presence of God through alchemy, which we will explain progressively in this course, but also we have explained in other courses too on chicagognosis.org.
"That which is like a flash of lightning makes one oblivious to the world and illuminates one's recollection of the hereafter." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So when we have intuitions and understandings, here and now, we reflect more on the course of our life. It illuminates our hopes and our understandings of where we would like to be―where we aspire to on the Tree of Life, which is the hereafter, the superior worlds. We become oblivious to the negativities and the ignorance of the world, and therefore, contemplate a higher truth: a higher reality from experience. That is the, again, Shari'ah, the path of the beginner, which leads us through the secret path, Tariqa, towards the heights, Haqiqah.
"The moment that is lasting will keep one engaged in itself rather than preoccupied with the hereafter, until the Truth becomes evident." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
What is interesting is for the beginners, we all want to go to heaven. We all want to go to the top of the Tree of Life, and we don't want to be down here. We don't want to be in the hell realms, so to speak. However, those who are really working with meditation, Tariqa, who are in “the moment that lasts,” when they are really awakening consciousness here and now, they'd rather be engaged in their work than preoccupied with the hereafter, because they understand from experience that to get to that point, they have to really work seriously―to be concerned with our daily life.
For as Samael Aun Weor mentioned, "Initiation is our own life, lived intensely, with rectitude and with love." These initiates who are really serious would rather be preoccupied with the death of the ego, engaged in the work itself, and not be preoccupied with salvation in some other world. They know that they have to get there by work, “until the Truth becomes evident.”
"The moment that is overwhelming eliminates the conditioned habits of the human state, so that the transcendent Truth alone abides." ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
This is the path of Haqiqah / Marifah: those moments in which all the self is lost, annihilated, and only the Being is present in the soul.
These are the states of Prophets, the moments of our Prophet, which are very elevated. Of course, we can taste those levels if we are meditating, if we learn, first of all, to contemplate ourselves, here and now. Of course, the moment is always divided in different ways, according to the path of initiation, and according to a level of being. In order to explore this topic further, I invite you to ask questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: My question is, I would like to know what will be the best attitude for someone who is trying to stay alert. But, you know, its is going back and forth, back and forth, you know, so sometimes you know the feeling of discouragement wants to take it away. So what will be the best attitude for someone who is in that situation and would like to keep on going?
Instructor: That is a good question. Prayer is fundamental. Prayer is essential. When we feel weak and discouraged, we have to remember our experiences, when we acted virtuously, when we acted consciously for the benefit of others. We have to really reflect on our victories, things we have done well with, our virtues. It is not enough just to meditate on the death of the ego, but the contemplate right action. Because the more we see that we are capable of acting uprightly, the more we realize that we are capable of doing this work, that it can be done.
It is very easy in this knowledge to become pessimistic. Many people see the ego and become terrified at how vast and big it is―and get discouraged. But that is not an accurate depiction of our capacities for change. To really see how much work we have to do, it is important that we recognize that we do need a lot of work, but at the same time that shouldn't mean we become morbid, pessimistic, doubtful of our abilities.
The reality is, as we are having experiences internally, we gain flashes of lightning, inspirations, understandings, which keep pushing us to change. Of course, in the beginning those moments are like flashes of inspiration. They are not lasting yet. But in order to progress from the stage of Shari'ah to Tariqa, instead of going back and forth in our practice, we have to develop consistency, to really work regardless of whether or not we think we see results. Because the results will emerge spontaneously in our day to day, instant by instant life. Moment by moment. Little by little. And not to get discouraged, because of course, it is not easy to change, given the magnitude of our faults. But we also should not be one-sided and think with shame, "Oh I am such a negative bad person." But to realize we have the virtues of God inside. As small as that may be, remember that even David killed Goliath. The Essence, the soul, killed the giant.
I recommend meditating and praying and reflecting upon the virtues of your soul―taking the time to imagine and reflect on those moments in your life in which you acted virtuously, even when it was difficult to do so, because that gives us hope. Hope is important, to have hope in ourselves and divinity, in our abilities.
So it's necessary to be balanced in meditations, but also pray a lot for that help, because you gain help in the moment, when we pray, in those moments in which we are tested. When I have been in my current job, receiving a lot of difficulties, and I can feel my ego wanting to surge and act and affect the people I work with, I pray for a lot of help, for serenity. And I have been able to find through my meditations and my self-observations, not only the ego that I must work on, but also the virtuous qualities that I need to enact in those moments.
Meditation and self-observation, in the moment, go hand-in-hand. We deepen our understanding through prayer. To pray sincerely. Ask for your Divinity to help you. You don't need a formula in order to receive help or to ask for it, but simply with whatever longings you feel. You can ask, and I recommend take your question and your prayers to meditation, and then in that way, fall asleep, and examine your dreams for the answers. In that way, we gain experiences, more of those lightning flashes, so to speak, so that we continue to develop light.
It is not enough just to reflect on the bad. We have to reflect on the good in ourselves too, because that wouldn't be realistic.
Question: I was wondering if you would say more on what you were saying about. If you are enjoying a moment, then you are enjoying. If you're sorrowful then you are in sorrow. Can you speak about the difference between questioning where you are in and examining where you are? Sometimes I feel like in examining where I am, I am sort of questioning it. But it masks as examination, but sometimes there's almost a doubt within, that examination.
Instructor: It is stated by the Sufis how the “now” is the instant. We can be occupied with states of happiness or sorrow, because even the soul, can also experience states of remorse, of regrets for wrong action, which is the different kind of pain than just the ego not being satisfied.
So examination in the strict sense has to do with looking with the consciousness here and now. One thing is the intellect labeling and doubting what we see. But unfortunately, because our intellect tends to be much more developed in us than our conscience, we have that center of gravity in the mind.
Examination is nothing to do with the intellect. As Samael Aun Weor mentions, the intellect can give itself the luxury of labeling a defect and passing it to other levels of the subconsciousness, or the unconsciousness, or infraconsciousness. Real examination has to do with seeing the mind for what it is through conscious perception [muhasabah: inner accounting]. But we can only do that by being alert to what is going on―really examining and seeing without judgment, without labeling, without repressing what the contents of our psychology are. Examination has nothing to do with saying “This is an ego, pride,” or “This is an ego, vanity,” etc., but really seeing its qualities.
Judgment―we have to reserve for later in meditation and judgment can only occur once we have fully seen an ego in action and have comprehended it in meditation, because in the moment we can see egos in our daily state, defects. However, meditation is needed to go deeper.
So, examination is twofold. Self-observation, first, is what gives us the food and the fuel for meditation. And then judgment is the comprehension we get as we are meditating―when we really understand why a certain defect behaves or acts a certain way. Where did it come from? What is its conditioning? This is the knowing “the how and the why of the mind” according to Samael Aun Weor.
This is examination. comprehension, understanding. But of course, in the beginning, it is difficult because self-observation is a faculty in us that is atrophied. We gain strength with it more and more as we discipline ourselves to pay attention, instant by instant, moment by moment.
The following transcription is from an audio lecture on Sufi Principles of Meditation, a course originally delivered live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
We mentioned that meditation is a state of consciousness. It is not a technique. Although in this tradition, we study many practices, many dynamics, many exercises that lead to this state within our daily life.
Meditative states, experiences, cognizance can always be understood through the balance of two things: study and practice. This is known as method and wisdom within Buddhism and as Samael Aun Weor, the founder of our tradition stated: “Knowledge and being must be balanced within harmoniously in order to produce comprehension.”
So, we must have knowledge of the method, what different religions teach in their very heart, how to achieve the experience, the perception of the divine. This is why we, in this tradition, study many aspects of religion, because they all teach something very valuable about how to meditate.
In the spirit of this course, we are exploring the science of meditation as taught within Sufism, although we do reference and study Buddhism, Judaism, all religions. We must always study Gnosis wherever it may be found, because the principles of Gnosis are universal, and we know from our studies that Gnosis is direct knowledge. It is cognizant experience. It is the state of meditation, of understanding. And because mediation is universal, we can always drink the wine of Gnosis from a Sufi, Buddhist or Christian cup. The religious forms are different, but the complete knowledge is the same.
The Universality of Gnosis within Religious Traditions
It’s important that we learn to drink this wine, this divine teaching, within every tradition—without exception. But we also must never pollute the purity of that knowledge with extemporaneous things, with novelties, innovations. We must not adulterate the wine of Gnosis through a bad cup, through a filthy chalice.
This is the symbol of how meditation in different traditions throughout time originally taught this teaching, this profound science. But with time and the degeneration of humanity, those religious forms have been corrupted. So, in the times of Jesus, the gospels speak about the pharisees, which can really symbolize any person from any tradition who thinks they know Gnosis, the wisdom of direct experience, but they have merely corrupted the original teaching through belief. And we have mentioned many times in our lectures and courses that belief is not real knowledge, real faith.
When we believe in something, we think it is true or we feel it is true, but we do not know. Faith is Gnosis. It is what we have experienced. It is what we have verified, and this very pure fountain of wisdom which we always must drink from, which we always must validate through our own practice, through our own experiences.
And when we have that experience, we are able to look at any religion, any teaching, and find the principles of that doctrine, to recognize it, to know it, because we have seen it for ourselves. We know it for ourselves. But the pharisee, a type of psychology that thinks it knows, but does not, is prevalent in any tradition. As Jesus of Nazareth stated, the pharisees wash the outside of the cup, but not the inside, which is a symbol of the soul. It also can refer to a religion’s tradition, meditative traditions, where the principles of this doctrine have been lost, because people, thinking that they know and understand the scriptures from experience, they mix that wisdom with impurity.
Also, this is why Jesus stated, we must pour new wine in new wine-skins. It means to have a psychological attitude that is investigative, to open one’s mind to the new. And to simply experiment.
We have to look at these practices and really test them from our own experience, to really have genuine faith, to really know. This is a conundrum or a catch 22 for students who approach any tradition. They are inspired to want to know themselves, to study themselves, to experience divinity. But because we are so corrupt with ego, we often do not know where to look for that wisdom, and so in the beginning we are blind. This is why there is a great danger in the beginning for students: to simply attach themselves to any teaching without verifying or testing it, to accept and believe in it with their minds and hearts, but without awakening the consciousness.
We study all religions. We drink gnosis, direct experience, not only from the writings of Samael Aun Weor but from the Sufis, from the Buddhist masters, from the great Kabbalists of Israel. This indicates that we have to know how to read, to understand. We have to learn how to verify. We have to experiment. This is why we study all religions, unanimously. We look at their essential principles, to know what they all teach in their essence, so that we do not become confused or intoxicated by the wine of theories, of belief systems, of merely accepting or rejecting the doctrine in our mind and heart without really comprehending the value of it.
So, Gnosis again, is real faith. It is witnessing real divinity, which the Muslims call Shahada, the declaration of faith. There is no God but God and Muhammad is His Prophet. We explain the meaning of that term, Shahada, which relates to mushahada in Arabic, signifying mediation.
So, we are going to further explore the principles of meditation according to Sufism, in order to fill a very severe need in our studies. Many people are not familiar with how mediation is taught in the Sufi teaching, how Gnosis is within Sufism.
As we were talking about the allegory of the cup, we also have to be very careful when we study. Gnosis is often the mixed, the principles of meditation are often mixed with corruption.
Every tradition in time degenerates. It is a law of nature. It has happened with Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and even today in the Gnostic tradition.
It is because the root knowledge is often overlooked, untaught or forgotten. To have real wisdom is based on experiencing the truth for ourselves, and in this way, we do not get lost. We do not get confused when we see or hear things that are not in coherence, do not correlate with what we have verified, and this is the importance of studying the divine law and the way, in harmony.
The divine law is that we serve divinity through our practices. The way is that we experience the truth. And in this way, in our process of developing both knowledge and being, studying the tradition and meditation, no matter where it is found―we also test and experiment, we verify. We always look at the principles of a teaching, to see what is pure, what is true, and then we disregard that which is superfluous, corrupted, unnecessary.
The Definition of Principles
I would like to define for you what the word principle means as we are opening this discussion. In the online dictionary, a principle “is a fundamental truth, a proposition that serves as the foundation of a system of belief or behavior or for a change of reasoning.”
A principle is a fundamental law or truth. It is what we can verify, what we can experience. This becomes a foundation for a system, which in this definition refers to “belief.” Or in this definition refers to belief, which is inaccurate.
While principles always make up any religion, in our studies we do not believe in these things. Some people may and they can teach what they like, they can get many followers because they really believe that they know. But we have to go beyond the surface and really get at the heart of what a teaching, a school, a method entails.
Principles can also refer to a code of behavior, which we spoke about very abundantly in the previous lecture on the nature of the divine law, and ethics.
It also can support a chain of reasoning, of understanding, of comprehension.
So, in the beginning of our studies we read, we reflect, we comprehend the knowledge with the mind. We learn the terminology, the explanations, but more importantly we have to apply what we read. This is the balance of knowledge and being. This is the balance that leads us and conducts us towards integrity, to comprehension.
A principle also is “a general scientific theorem or law that has numerous special applications across a wide field.” It can be a law, principles like gravity. These are tangible experiences. These are truths that are not merely just a concept. It is a factual element of life.
While the principles of meditation pertain to our mystical states, they refer to how we live our life daily. What we know, what we see, what we verify. We know that if we act with anger, we will suffer. This is a principle or law of human behavior, of ethics. Which is why ethics is always the foundation of any tradition in order to really enter meditation.
As we stated, we find Gnosis in all religions, without exception. Just because Gnosis was the heart of those traditions, not everything that was taught in those faiths has been sustained, has lived, has not been corrupted. It’s sad to say, there are many people who take the principles of meditation, the principles of Gnosis, the teachings of Samael Aun Weor, or Sufism or Judaism or Buddhism, and they adulterate them with drugs, with politics, sectarianism, fanaticism. Many even attribute these qualities to the original heart of the founders of the religions themselves. This is very sad. It creates a lot of confusion, a lot of conflict.
People project their concepts onto the knowledge, and that is how one adulterates the knowledge. Because of a lack of genuine ethics, of following the divine law, many so called spiritual people have driven people away from the actualization or study of themselves. We find this in every faith, especially Islam, which is a tradition that has been greatly abused.
Hopefully, after this course, you will find that the principles of Gnosis are very alive within the original writings, which we always have to examine in light of our own experience and through teachings by Samael Aun Weor, who gives a very cohesive and comprehensive perspective, a practical wisdom that can aid us in understanding these things for ourselves.
As Samael Aun Weor wrote in The Revolution of Beelzebub:
“It is absurd to adulterate Gnosis with different teachings because the Christian Gospels prohibit adultery. It is absurd to conceive of Gnosis without the Maithuna, sexual magic.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of Beelzebub
We will make some references to that teaching, tantrism, sacred alchemy, with our discussion of essential principles today.
“We can drink the wine of Gnosis (divine wisdom) within a Greek, Buddhist, Sufi, Aztec, Egyptian, etc., cup, yet we must not adulterate this delicious wine with strange doctrines.” ―Samael Aun Weor wrote in The Revolution of Beelzebub:
This means that, we look at what the Sufis wrote, what the Gnostics wrote, and we verify. We look at those traditions with the eye of discrimination and selectivity. We have to look at the essential principles of these traditions and to understand them from experience. There is no other way.
The way must be validated through the divine law and the divine law must be validated through the way.
So, in this way, Bayazid Bastami, a Sufi initiate, stated “The thing we tell of can never be found by seeking, yet only seekers find it.”
So, we can never seek for genuine knowledge, just through mere intellectual pursuit. We have to understand these things through practice. So genuine seeking is through daily meditation, daily experience.
The Fundamentals of Meditation: Study and Practice
So how should we approach meditation? To emphasize my previous point, we have to look at the original scriptures. We have to look at the original writings, before commentators or commentary derived from those root sources. Whether we study Buddhism or Sufism or any teaching, we have to look at the founding documents, the original verb, the fundamentals of religion. To really look at it with a clear mindset, an attitude of investigation.
The following is from a Sufi book called Al-Risalah, known as Principles of Sufism, written by a master by the name of Al-Qushayri. His writings were often used by the Sufi master Rumi, amongst the Mevlevi Sufis, his disciples. It is a very rich book that you can study if you wish to understand the principles of Sufism, the principles of Gnosis. We quote from this book extensively because it is a very pure document. If I give testimony of this, it is because it is a text that I have investigated many times and have had experiences internally about, in the astral plane, in the mental plane, beyond.
We have to learn to investigate the written word and to reflect deeply on what we read to balance study and practice, method and wisdom. This is what it means when Al-Jurayri was quoted in this book:
“A clear vision of the fundamentals of religion comes about through the application of their derivative principles, and the derivatives are corrected by comparing them against the original sources. There is no way to the station of contemplation (meditation, mushahada) of states except by esteeming as great the means and principles that God has esteemed to be great.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So, the fundamentals of religion refer to the Latin religare, reunion, unification with divinity. We must study and apply, more importantly, derivative principles. What are these principles? Serenity, concentration, faith, ethical behavior, codes of conduct, divine love. These are qualities of mind, of consciousness, qualities of the soul that we can develop intentionally, so as to achieve re-unification with our inner God. We have to study and apply these principles in our daily life through our ethical behavior. The derivatives refer to qualities of consciousness that originate from those laws.
So, a principle is a law, a law of nature, whether in the physical plane or in the internal planes.
What principles do we enact in our life in order to obtain religion? What do we do on a daily basis to guarantee we will experience and know the state of our inner Being, our inner God? What about our life derives from these principles?
By fulfilling ethical conduct, what is the derivative, what is the result in our factual daily life? We have to investigate this. But to know these principles, we can study. This is the beauty of Sufism. It teaches us the level of Being, what we are psychologically, what are the virtues of the soul. So, when we comprehend and eliminate certain defects, we enact ethical behavior and really comprehend our faults. We develop the virtues of the Being in us. We derive genuine contentment, happiness, liberation by following these laws of the soul.
Sufism is very beautiful for that understanding. It teaches us about the virtues of the Being. We can experience these things if we are working seriously. So, “these derivatives are corrected by comparing them against the original sources.”
Another meaning is, we can study the writings of many teachers whether from Buddhism, Sufism, Judaism, Gnosticism. But whenever we really study a tradition, we have to really look at the founder of those faiths. We have to look at the original sources to analyse them, to really understand them, intellectually at first, and then through our experience. So, what I mean by the original sources is the writings of the Buddha, the sutras, the tantras. The writings of Padmasambhava. In Islam, the Qur’an. In the Gnostic tradition, the writings of Samael Aun Weor. We have to look at the original writings of the prophets, beings who really demonstrated a high level of integrity and understanding, the writings of Jesus or the scriptures about Christ. We have to look at these original sources, compare them to everything else that came after, because the writings or teachings of the prophets have precedence. They have the most light or knowledge.
We have to study where the light is most pure and learn to compare what came afterwards with the sense of integrity and discrimination, because impurity comes later. The light initiates, but the shadow emerges afterwards.
It is good to really be studious. It doesn’t mean we just become bookworms. It means we develop our understanding with a lot of patience and practice, because “there is no way to the stage of contemplation, the witnessing of divine states except by esteeming as great the means and principles that God has esteemed to be great” in the teaching of the prophets. They gave methods and means, principles of divinity, laws of the cosmos that are really divine.
We have to really understand what these laws are for ourselves because there is a system. There is a way. There is a path. It is specific. It is based on laws. It is not a belief or a concept to adopt, a behavior to imitate superficially. It is a code of conduct, a way of acting consciously. It is the fulfillment of law, the law of causality. Because the soul cannot be created, the consciousness cannot be developed, if we do not apply the principles or laws that ensure its fulfillment in us. Just as there is a law of gravity, there is a law for developing the soul.
If we wish to return to God, we have to learn to adopt and practice and understand how those laws of divinity operate based on facts. And in this way, when we see how this teaching works, how ethics works, how compassion is really the essence of religion, of harmonizing communities, of bringing real peace and love in our own life and the lives of others―we realize with awe that it is a beautiful knowledge. It is a great thing, that is so wonderful that it is incomprehensible to the mind.
When we experience those states of beatitude, of compassion, of serenity, it truly transforms us. This is how we empower our practice, when we have those experiences. But first we have to study and apply the knowledge. We have to know the principles of God, the principles of meditation, and to work very diligently to experience them. But not out of craving, the desire that wants to have some kind of Samadhi or mystical experience, but simply changing our daily life, working on behaviors that make us suffer, so that we can obtain a state of knowledge, the certainty that certain ways of behaving are wrong, create problems and certain ways of behaving also produce harmony, happiness. This is how we inspire ourselves and this is how we develop certainty, real faith that this knowledge works.
Certainty in Meditation
This is why we are going to examine some writings from the Qur’an that talk a lot about this nature of certainly, of real faith. So, everybody in this knowledge, this teaching of Samael Aun Weor, wants to develop certainty. Every practitioner who is really applying meditation wants to have that verification of the truth, wants to have a foundation, an experience―to really know that we know and that we have experienced God, that we know divinity, in whatever level, because there are degrees of knowledge, but also there are degrees of certainty.
There are some very beautiful teachings within this Muslim scripture. I will preface this discussion by saying the Qur’an is a very closed book. It is a book for initiates, people who are really walking the path of meditation, of the science of alchemy (from the Arabic Allah and the Greek khēmeia), to fuse oneself with divinity in the perfect matrimony, and also the study of Kabbalah.
We know that Kabbalah is the Jewish mysticism, and we will talk about the Tree of Life near the end of this lecture, how the Hebrew kabbel means “to receive” knowledge that we are certain of from experience, relating to our physical life and internal life. Just as there is Kabbalah within the Jewish tradition, we also have Kabbalah in the Arabic tradition, because Arabic and Hebrew, the Semitic languages, share the same roots. They are very ancient.
We always must study the science of meditation, the science of alchemy, if we are married. If we are a single person, we can practice many exercises that work with energy so as to awaken consciousness. This is the science of transmutation, of mutating the creative force of our body into understanding, into light.
The Three Forms of Certainty
There are three forms of certainty within the Qur’an which can help us to understand the whole map of meditation and our own experiences. I have included the Qur’anic verses where you find these terms mentioned and I will read for you excerpts from the Qur’an that talk about these principles. There is the knowledge of certainty ilm al-yaqin. There is the seeing of certainty, ayn al-yaqin, and there is the truth of certainty ḥaqq al-yaqin.
So, what is the knowledge of certainty? It refers to what we know with the intellect. It can study a religion, a system, a principle, a faith. We can have a certain level of certainty in our mind, intellectually that we know. We learn the theory, the concepts, the languages, the terms. We see how the system works, at least in the mind. We have concepts that are organised, a type of rationalization which is necessary in the beginning. This is why when we talked about the definition of principles, it is also “a fundamental truth for supporting a chain of reasoning.” This knowledge is very logical. It is very dynamic, concrete.
Knowledge of certainty refers to things making sense in our readings and our studies, because we have to have that knowledge in the intellect first.
However, we can’t just leave that there. We have to really see with certainty what those principles entail. This is the second level of certainty, ayn al-yaqin.
Al-yaqin means "certainty." Ilm means "knowledge" and ayn, if you studied Kabbalah, refers to sight, the eyes of perception.
To see with certainty means we have experienced what that knowledge entails. We can be reading about astral projection, dream yoga, meditation, samadhi and have that knowledge of certainty in our intellect, of what that teaching entails. This is good, but the next step is to really practice and to experience and see that truth for ourselves. So not just hearing about an astral projection or reading about it, but actually experiencing it for yourself. That is ayn al-yaqin, the seeing of certainty. It is what we have verified.
But there is an even deeper level to that knowledge. Ḥaqq al-yaqin, the truth of certainty. This is a very profound level of knowledge and we mentioned in our previous lecture that Haqiqah is the truth, the highest teaching of yoga, of religion, of meditation. It is the profound knowledge Maʿrifa of the truth Al-Ḥaqq, which is one of the names of Allah in the Qur’an.
To have the truth of certainty means not only just having an astral projection, which is very beautiful, very powerful, very profound. It means to have a tremendous samadhi in which the soul is lost within the Being, in which we become the Being. The Being manifests in us, a state of happiness and liberation that is truly undefinable, profound, beyond words.
It means to be completely free of the ego. There is no ego there. No “I.” No “me” nor “myself.” There is only Al-Ḥaqq, the Truth, which is why the Sufi master, Mansur al-Hallaj stated before the orthodox Muslims, “Ana 'l-Ḥaqq.” He said, “I Am the Truth!” which of course scandalized those people who were very fanatic and religious, institutionalized, dogmatic, because Ḥaqq is one of the names of God, and basically, he said “I am God.”
However, people did not understand that it wasn’t Mansur Al-Hallaj who said that. It was the truth within him saying that. Just as Jesus said, “before Abraham was, I Am.” Only divinity can say that, and that’s a very high level of attainment, the level of a master who is reaching perfection.
It is very profound, and don’t think that you cannot have that experience to a degree in the beginning, because your Being can give you that knowledge, that certainty, if He wants. You just have to be diligent about your work, but don’t get confused after those experiences thinking that we are God, because we are not. We know from experience what divinity is. We have the truth of certainty. We know it. But we return back to our body, from our experiences from dream yoga or whatever, and then we learn to walk our daily life, to continue working, because the experience of the truth does not mean the complete realization of that truth.
Mythomania and the Death of the Ego
In order to self-realize we need to annihilate the ego. This is the problem with certain people in our tradition who have an experience of the truth, the truth of certainty. They unite with God and then they come back saying “I am the Master So-and-so… Follow me!” This has led to many problems in the movement, because experience of the truth is temporary. Self-realization is something else. This is not to denigrate those experiences, because we need those experiences. We need to have truth of certainty in meditation.
We need to know these things for ourselves, but it doesn’t mean that we become mythomaniacs. It’s a term we use in this knowledge, to make a myth of manas, myth of mind. The mind thinking it is God. It is not [Editor’s Note: the term mania is well known as a delirious state of grandeur within psychotherapy and studies on mental illness. See the Spiritual and Mental Health Course for more information on this topic].
So, the consciousness can experience the truth, can see the truth. The mind can have knowledge of certainty knowledge of the truth and the intellect, but the actual experience is something else. The consciousness is not the mind. The consciousness can see with more or less clarity, but to know the truth of certainty we have to be free of ego, even if just for a temporary moment in our meditations.
States of the Truth
The Sufi Master Ibn 'Arabi stated that, “knowledge of certainty is like hearing about a fire.” He said that the “seeing of certainty is like seeing a fire, and the truth of certainty is being burnt by fire.” Degrees of knowledge, degrees of experience. But don’t think these types of states are inaccessible to you. Many people hear about these truths and they become overwhelmed, feeling like it is impossible for them to know this truth, to know these experiences for themselves.
This is why in the Qur’an, chapter 50, verses 15 through 16, states:
“Did We fail in the first creation? But they are in confusion over a new creation. And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him, and We are closer to him than his jugular vein.” ―Al-Qaf 15-16
There is a lot of interesting teachings in this verse. “Did We fail in the first creation?” says divinity. This first creation is the birth of our body, our physical conception. When speaking about people who don’t really practice mediation, they are in confusion over a new creation. This new creation is the soul, the soul that we develop. The body is one thing. The soul is another. We have to create the consciousness, build consciousness, develop consciousness. In this way we form the true man, the true Hum-man. Hum means spirit in Sanskrit. Man or manas means mind [Hu is also a mantra amongst Sufi schools, representing the breath of God]. A mind that is fully united with divinity, the spirit, that is a true Hum-man.
Divinity in the Qur’an states, “And We have already created man and know what his soul whispers to him.” This is a very high level to attain, to be a real man or a true human being, a woman. “And We are closer to him than his jugular vein.”
People think divinity is far away, but God is with us in every moment. This is why is Ihsan (beautiful action) is to act as if we see God even if we do not, because surely He sees us.
Divinity, the Being, has been given many names in the Qur’an. He is:
We work with meditation, we work with exercises of energy known as transmutation, and we work to serve humanity, to help humanity. We learn these states of being, through applying the principles of meditation. This is what leads us to the three forms of certainty.
We have to learn how to first study what these qualities are, but then we have to see them from experience, and if we are really serious, our Being will enter us and help us, will manifest in our deeds, will manifest and express in our daily life as these qualities: Al-Murid, "The Willing"; Al-Raḥman, "The Compassionate"; Al-Raḥim, "The Merciful"; Al-Alim, "The All-Knowing"; Al-Wadud, "The Loving"; Al-Khaliq, "The Creator"―principles, laws of the soul, laws of divinity, which are very high.
Qur’anic Verses on the Three Certainties
We can taste these in meditation and in our daily life if we are working seriously, working daily. So, it is a means to have knowledge and seeing of certainty. I will read for you some excerpts from the Qur’an where we find these verses, these terms. The knowledge and seeing of certainty are found in Surah 102, known as Al-Takathur: “Rivalry in Worldly Increase.”
This scripture refers to how people, when they approach meditation, or they approach religion, are often afflicted by desire for pursuing worldly things. To have real knowledge of certainty and seeing of certainty is to contemplate the inevitability of death, because if we don’t live our life seriously with this type of knowledge, we don’t know where we are going to go when we die. But if we awaken our perception, we develop the seeing of certainty, we can know everything, then we can generally access the truth.
“Competition in [worldly] increase diverts you
Until you visit the graveyards.
No! You are going to know.
Then no! You are going to know.
No! If you only knew with knowledge of certainty...
You will surely see the Hellfire
(states of suffering, the future that awaits those that do not eliminate the ego).
Then you will surely see it with the eye of certainty.
Then you will surely be asked that Day about pleasure”
(meaning vain worldly pleasures). ―Al-Takathur
So, if we are serious about meditation, and many times and in many traditions, students are asked to meditate about the certainty of their own death, the death of the body. This is in order to develop commitment to the path. If we are serious about our spirituality, we realise that we cannot waste our time on superfluous things, because eventually we will go to the grave and enter into the internal worlds.
If we are asleep in this physical world, we won’t have certainty of that state of consciousness when we die. This is a very scary thing to think about, because when we physically go to sleep, we black out for eight hours, typically, and we do not remember anything. This indicates that we are asleep consciously in the physical world. However, if we want to have real experiences, real certainty of the afterlife, we have to awaken here and now.
The truth of certainty is given in Surah 56 Al-Waqi’ah (The Inevitable) of which we will read a few excerpts.
“Indeed, it is a noble Qur’an in a register well protected. None touch it except for the purified.” ―Al-Waqi’ah 77-79
So, the Qur’an in Arabic means recitation. It is recorded as a scripture in the internal planes according to the Sufis, guarded by the Elohim or Buddhas, the angels, the masters. It is only accessible to those who are purifying themselves, for those who have the truth of certainty.
What does it mean to be purified? It means to work on our own mind, our own egotism, our defects. If we do not comprehend our own errors and work to eliminate them, we cannot develop our spiritual sight. We cannot awaken within the internal dimensions. The reason why we may not have experiences in the beginning is because of our own psychological obscurations, our defects. If you wish to see the internal worlds, wish to see within meditation what we are, we must remove the veil of our understanding, of the mind.
So, like any scripture, we can only interpret when we are pure, when we have awakened our consciousness. We move beyond the knowledge of certainty. We see it for ourselves and by the grace of divinity we can have that truth unveiled in its totality.
“It is a revelation from the Lord of the worlds. Then is it to this statement that you are indifferent and make the thanks for your provision that you deny the Provider?” ―Al-Waqi’ah 80-82
Many people are indifferent, even in Gnosis. What does it mean to be indifferent to any religious or spiritual teaching? It means to be asleep. To not feel the urgency to want to change. If we do not feel that longing in our heart to want to know and to give thanks to our inner divinity, it means that we are very hypnotized by our own mind. We are indifferent. We are cold, lukewarm according to the Bible. But anyone of us who is studying this type of knowledge feels a spiritual inquietude, the impetus of the Being that is pushing us to work, to develop the genuine truth of certainty in ourselves. The way we can develop this further is to meditate on our own death. Which is why the Qur’an states:
“Then why, when the soul at death reaches the throat and you are at that time looking on, and our angels are nearer to him than you, but you do not see. Then why do you not, if you are not be recompensed, bring it back if you should be truthful? And if the deceased was of those brought near to Allah, then for him is rest and bounty and a garden of pleasure.” ―Al-Waqi’ah 83-89
So many people lead their life mechanically and then they die, not knowing where they will go or where thy came from, and this is very sad. Anyone of us who is studying meditation is pushed by our own inner God. We have the longings to want to really see the mysteries of life and death, to be inspired. It is this inspiration that pushes us to experiment, to know, because we fear and we have that anxiety that we do not know where we are going and that if we do not work on our own conduct, we may end up in states of suffering worse than our present life, because the divine law is cause and effect. We will reap what we sow.
And if we think that we will not be recompensed for our wrong action, then simply look at our life. If we are honest, “bring your proof if you are truthful!” We cannot deny the law of causality. It is in every aspect of nature and the universe. There is this law of Shariah, the divine law.
But if we are brought near to our inner Being, Allah, through meditation, through practice, “then for him or her is rest and bounty in a garden of pleasure.”
“And if he was of the companions of the right (those people who are following this path), then the angels will say, ‘Peace for you, you are from companions of the right.’ But if he was one of the deniers who went astray (the people who feed their ego, who do not work on their mind), then for him is the accommodation of scaling water and burning in hell fire.” ―Al-Waqi’ah 90-94
What is this left-hand path and right-hand path? We will not go into too much detail here, but the right-hand path refers to people who are working to incarnate the Being, who are eliminating the ego. The left-hand path is often referred to as the path of the sorcerers, of black magicians, people who fortify desire and who enter states of suffering which are very intense.
So “Indeed, this is the true certainty. So exalt the name of your Lord, the Most Great.” That is the end of that Surah.
This is true certainty, and many people often get very afraid when they read the Qur’an. They see the language as very strong, mentioning damnation and hell fire and states of suffering, and become very afraid and very averse to this tradition. But if we waken our consciousness in the internal planes, we find that we are recompensed for what we do. It is the law of nature. If we are good people, we develop our conduct and develop certainty, we know that we will go to better states when physically the body dies. But if we are passionate, filled with hatred, with violence, with adultery, with sarcasm, with Phariseeism, fanaticism, egotism, we will naturally follow the trajectory of our own actions. This is the truth of certainty. The law, the truth, Al-Ḥaqq. It is the way to see how to get out of that, and meditation aids us in that process.
Psychological Work and the Signs of God
Everybody in Gnosis wants to have experiences, as I have been stating. Many people start to practice meditation and do not have experiences. They become very frustrated and discouraged. This happens often and it is a normal process, because it is not easy to first work on our mind, and that’s the priority in this tradition. We do not seek to have experiences, though they are very beautiful and necessary, but the priority is working on our own defects.
This is why it says in the Qur’an Surah 2 as Al-Baqara, verse 118:
“Those who have no knowledge (ilm or marifah in Arabic) say why does not Allah speak to us or come to us a sign?” ―Al-Baqarah 118
Meaning through some kind of meditative experience.
“So said those who were before them, words similar to what they say. Alike are their hearts.” ―Al-Baqarah 118
What does it mean that their hearts are alike? If they want to have experiences, they’re attached to the concept of having Samadhi or mystical vision. For their hearts are lukewarm, their hearts have not been purified.
Remember that we stated in the Qur’an that the Qur’an is only read by those who are purified, and can only be understood in that way. Prophet Muhammad taught in the Hadith, the oral tradition of Islam, “There is an organ in the body which, when it is pure, affects the whole health of the organism. When it is impure it pollutes everything. This organ is the heart, and the polish of the heart is Dhikr, remembrance of God.”
It is like a mirror. If you polish your heart through ethical conduct, your heart can reflect the heavens. Then experience comes naturally, easily. This is why the Qur’an states:
“We have certainly made the signs clear for the people who have certainty.” ―Al-Baqarah 118
We have verified it. But of course, certainty of the truth only comes about by working on the ego, which is why Al-Qushayri in his book Principles of Sufism stated:
“Uncertainty, knowledge does not come about except by the prior fulfillment of its conditions. That is, one must examine things in a pertinent and relevant way.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So, this is the beginning, as we were stating. Study the doctrine, memorize it, develop certainty of knowledge. Be pertinent and relevant. Look at those things in your daily life that you want to change the most and look at the aspects of the doctrine that are most relevant to that.
Some people study Kabbalah first, some people psychology, meditation, alchemy. We have to study all these things together in their relationship, but how our study unfolds is natural to us, our own idiosyncrasy. We have to examine things in a very relevant way. Study meditation, how to practice it and apply it to your life. This is what is most important, pertinent.
When we are studying these things and applying these things:
“The when the hints of the divine become continuous and clear demonstrative evidence has been obtained, the perceiver (the meditator), through the succession of lights and his deep reflection upon them, becomes seemingly independent of the consideration of proof.“ ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
As we are practicing, we may experience many things. We develop evidence from our own experience. It is demonstrative. It is factual. Some people when they are meditating may see lights, images, scenes pulling out or playing out within their consciousness. Some people have visions, astral experiences, jinn experiences. When deeply reflecting on these qualities, through time, experience and practice, we become seemingly independent of the consideration of proof. Meaning we are no longer filled with the desire to want to prove these things egotistically.
The desire or the mind says, “I want to know,” but this frustration is the obstacle. We can deeply reflect on these truths, but we do not necessarily crave the understanding or experience. It will appear in our consciousness when we stop thinking about it.
When we silence our mind, relax our mind and withdraw our senses from the physical world, from our body, when the mind is serene and calm, our heart is purified. The deep reflection, the lights of divinity can reflect in us. “This is the state of certainty.” That is when we know we have experiences.
But first polish the mirror. As Rumi stated, “Your goal is not to seek after love, but to merely remove the causes and conditions that have prevented you from knowing it.” Meaning, remove the ego, and in that way we grow spiritually.
The Tree of Life: A Map of Consciousness
When we study the principles of meditation, we are going to study the Tree of Life in its synthesis. The Tree of Life on the left is the map of Kabbalah, is the levels of consciousness, levels of being, which the Sufis speak abundantly about without using the Hebrew language.
We won’t explain all the dynamics of this Tree of Life, but merely introduce it in the context of our discussion, because this map helps us to understand where we are, where we are in our meditation. We have to learn this Tree of Life very deeply, its levels of consciousness, levels of being, so that when we study any scriptures, such as the Qur’an, we can interpret with clarity, with understanding. In this way we apply these principles to our life, so that we can really deepen our meditative practice.
For example, we have the lower seven sephiroth, which means spheres [emanations] in Hebrew. It is a map of the multi-dimensionality of our universe, of the different dimensions of the cosmos, but also of our own psyche.
We have Malkuth, the physical body.
We have Yesod, the energetic, ethereal or vital forces which permeates our physicality and gives it life.
We have Hod, our emotional vehicle or body of dreams. We operate in this vehicle when we enter the dream world, which we navigate in those planes of experience when the physical body is asleep.
Likewise we have Netzach, which is our mind, our thoughts.
We have Tiphereth, our willpower or human soul. It is the beauty of the soul, which the Muslims have referred to with the name Hassan. Hassan reminds us of Ihsan, meaning: beautiful action. It is through our own will that we can act beautifully through divinity, which is our consciousness.
Geburah, meaning justice in Hebrew, is the consciousness, our sense of right and wrong.
Our intuition which tells us what to do, how to act. Sometimes our will in daily life may act egotistically, may follow our own mind or emotions, may misuse our vital energies and the physical body.
Or other times we learn to use our will, to follow our hunches, our spiritual inquietudes, our conscience, which is Geburah, the divine soul.
In this way we learn to practice ethics, so that we can experience the spirit, Al-Ḥaqq, the Truth, Chesed.
On the right we see an image of a Tree of Life within Islam, because the Muslims didn’t explicitly teach about this Tree of Life, although in their writings you can understand those principles, if we are informed, which is part of the purpose of this course, so we can look at these principles and apply them to our studies.
Meditation is experience for when we learn to work with the Tree of Life in us. Calm the body, rest our vital energies, such as through mantras, sacred sounds, alchemy, runes, pranayama, sacred rights of rejuvenation.
We calm our heart through prayer, through humility, through polishing our emotional center, our emotional qualities.
We silence and calm our mind. Withdraw our senses from the physical body, our energies, our emotions, our thoughts.
We concentrate our willpower in order to reflect within, to follow our intuition, our consciousness. In that way we can have experiences of the spirit.
That’s a very synthetic way of talking about this dynamic. We will come back to this again and again, but I merely wanted to introduce this Tree of Life in the context of our course, because we will go very deep into these principles.
Silence and Insight
So, what are these essential principles of meditation that we have been discussing? In the Gnostic tradition, we have concentration and imagination, produces the state of meditation.
Concentration is the ability to focus on one thing, without thinking of anything else.
Imagination is our capacity to perceive images of a nonphysical type. So, if I was to ask you to imagine an apple, you can see it in your mind. It is not physical, but we perceive images that are not physical. That’s a very simple example of this quality. It is the capacity to perceive internal imagery, such as through dreams.
If we wish to have that type of perception very developed, we have to work with many exercises to develop our imagination, which we will be explaining in this course.
Concentration is when we are able to focus on one thing with our willpower, our attention, without being distracted.
We develop our concentration through ethics. If our mind is wild, we can’t concentrate or focus on one thing when we sit to practice, if we are engaging in unethical behavior all day.
We feed our anger, our mind becomes agitated. We feel lust, we pollute our mind stream with conditions of mind, desire, which are contrary to the state of imagination. We can’t see clearly if the mind is chaos.
This is the meaning of polishing the heart. The heart is developed through our ethics. When the heart is polished, we can reflect the images of God, and this is the state of meditation. So, this is the Gnostic conception of this dynamic.
Concentration, imagination equals meditation, the state of comprehension.
The Buddhists refer to this as Shamatha and Vipassana, which relates and completes Samadhi, mystical experience.
The Sufis refer to this dynamic as silence and insight, which refers to witnessing the truth.
They all teach the same thing. While you may be familiar with the Buddhist conception or the gnostic teaching of this dynamic, we are going to explore these principles according to Sufism.
So, by obtaining silence of mind, serenity of mind, we develop understanding or insight. We can see things clearly in us. And of course, there are many practices to develop serenity, concentration, and there are also practices to develop imagination.
The Key to Successful Worship
To conclude, in order to develop certainty in us, to develop real worship of divinity, we have to combine silence and insight, according to the Sufis. Serenity and visualization, concentration, imagination. Dhul-Nun al-Misri was a Sufi initiate who wrote the following:
“The key to success and worship lies in meditative reflection, fikrat. Whoever persists in such reflection in the heart will behold the invisible realm in the spirit.” ―Dhul-Nun al-Misri
So, this means: polish your mind, polish your heart, act ethically, develop compassion for others, especially when you are tempted to behave in negative ways. Work on anger. Look in yourself at anger. See it for what it is. Comprehend it. reflect upon it. See it. Develop serenity in you so that when you are working on your mind in mediation, you can go deep.
Reflect on yourself, be deep, be profound. In this way we awaken our consciousness to behold the invisible realm, the Tree of Life, in the spirit.
“Whosoever contemplates God through keeping watch over their thoughts which pass through his heart will be exalted by God and in all his outward deeds.” ―Dhul-Nun al-Misri
This is the meaning of “Truly We are closer to you then your jugular vein.” Whomsoever acts by working on their own mind, their own thoughts, by what they can perceive, here and now, will learn to purify themselves. It is only by purifying our mind, by acting ethically that we develop genuine serenity, silence, and eventually insight and understanding.
So, we will be examining these principles very deeply, in the coming months. I would like to invite you to ask questions.
Questions and Answers
Question: I have a question in regard to an indifferent approach. My question is that in a lot of Samael’s teachings, he talks about how we should also have an attitude of indifference towards the studies, not necessarily what you meant as how I understood it, which was to approach it with a state of equanimity (as of that indifference). Not like the attitude of what you said, like laziness, not having the fuel to go after those experiences. Could you please expand a little on that?
Instructor: Absolutely. Very good comment. What Samael Aun Weor mentions about practicing with indifference, has to do with, as you said, being neutral. Having a state of equanimity, not being driven by passion or craving to have experiences, but neither wanting to reject what we see, but to verify and to test.
So, there are two forms of indifference, as you mentioned, and that we were talking about. One is to be in a state of equanimity and to be scientific―test and verify. Look at what the teachings provide. Practice them, but do not expect an immediate reward. Neither fear what the outcome may be, but simply work with them and try them with an open mind.
This is the meaning of pouring new wine in new wine skins, or a new cup, a fresh cup. We learn to drink that experience and those practices by trying them, and seeing what works from experience. But the other term of indifference is (in terms of the Qur’anic language) not really caring about or having an inspiration to want to practice at all.
So, it’s a very different thing as you know. One thing is to practice with the neutral, equanimitous state of mind, but one thing is to be so lazy and intellectual to not want to try anything at all. The latter state is very common in the Gnostic movement, or any tradition really. People may like to study intellectually and are very fascinated by theory and they have the knowledge of certainty of things, but they are really lukewarm when it comes to dedication. Dedication is fulfilled when we practice this science
Question: Would it be accurate to say that serving humanity, showing compassion to others, helping in a soup kitchen for e.g. is wonderful and great thing to do, but to really serve humanity is to act ethically, to not act of negative emotions, not act out of the “I’s,” try not to dominate moments or always be right or point out how others are wrong? Is it accurate to say serving humanity is ethics?
Instructor: Absolutely, because any type of service becomes corrupt if we do it with our desires. If we are working on our anger, our pride, our fear and our negative internal states, that’s going to be the greatest form of worship. It is what Dhul-Nun al-Misri teaches too, and many other Sufis.
While we do not negate the need to want to help other people, we perfect that art when we are being patient with ourselves and other people. In terms of serving humanity, we have our jobs, we have our careers. We have certain services that we are doing to genuinely help others, but that quality of that service is contingent upon our own mental states.
So, they go both hand in hand, but more importantly if we are going to serve well, we have to work on our ego. That is really the greatest form of sacrifice and service, because we can work at job that we really hate, that is very difficult and yet it is where our Being needs us to be.
Personally, I have a job that is very difficult. I work with very difficult clients who test me all the time, who are very negative, and many times I have wanted to quit my job. I have wanted to leave because its been a very painful process. But I found that my Being has put me there, and I have verified this through experiences many times, in order to work on my patience, work on my ethics and work on my mind. When I have been able to change my own negative internal states, my own frustration and anger, I have really been able to serve humanity better at that job.
Our greatest form of prayer for divinity is when we comprehend and annihilate anger, which is why Prophet Muhammad taught “The strongest amongst you is he who controls his anger.” We can’t really help other people if we are afflicted by our own desires.
So they relate to each other: service and death of the ego. They are two aspects of the same thing, including the other factor, which is birth. Birth, death and sacrifice―the three factors of Gnosis. Of course, it’s a form of prayer in which we no longer react to life, we contemplate God in our thoughts, our deeds and our hearts. When we do not act on our ego, but act virtuously, God exalts us and helps us with certain meditative states and experiences. Hope that answers your question.
Question: Yes, definitely thank you. So, the sacrifice and the serving of humanity, that can come through voluntary suffering, whereas the suffering is when you are in an ordeal and you want to argue back and prove that you right, show that you are the victim in the situation but instead you do not act on your anger, your pride and that’s voluntary. Its hard because you want to point out that you are being wronged but instead you take the higher road, and that’s voluntary suffering, correct?
Instructor: Absolutely, and that is really the foundation of developing certainty. People want to experience God, but they do not want to work on the veil that covers them. When we are angry, we do not see God. We see anger. We want to hurt, but if you are changing your mental states, you are tearing the veil of Isis according to the Freemasons. In that way we can really serve the other person, especially when they are crucifying us, metaphorically speaking.
The following transcription is from an audio lecture on Sufi Principles of Meditation, a course originally delivered live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
Everybody who enters and practices the gnostic teachings always wants to have direct experience, mystical states, knowledge of God. When we read the writings of Samael Aun Weor, it is difficult to not feel inspired by the beauty, the depth, the power of the many personal anecdotes and experiences that he conveys. He often speaks firsthand of astral projections, awakened experiences, out of the body in the internal planes, the higher dimensions of nature, in which he has spoken with his Inner God or the masters of the White Lodge. Jinn experiences. Tremendous ecstasies of the soul.
What is particularly attractive of this kind of writing is that it goes against the theories, the conjectures, the beliefs about religion, or spirituality. These writings are powerful. They inspire us and they should enliven our heart, to push us to want to experience these things for ourselves.
It is not the intention to merely show off this kind of knowledge. That was not the intention of the writings of Samael Aun Weor and many other prophets. As Ibn ‘Arabi, a great Sufi master, stated (paraphrased), “When someone raises a lamp, it is in order to show light, not to be proud of one's elevation.” This is why such experiences are beautiful, are necessary. But if we wish to have that kind of knowledge for ourselves, to follow in the footsteps of the prophets, we must be practical.
There are many people who study meditation. Many decades. People love to read about religion, about mystical experience, about divinity, but they don't practice. Many people are merely content with reading about the Being, reading about experiences, and not working effectively to have that knowledge for oneself.
This is similar to reading about the experience of drinking water and yet one is dying of thirst. If you wish to understand the experience of water, you have to walk to the faucet, the well, and extract that water for oneself and to drink it. While this analogy is very simple, this perfectly illustrates the state of many students, not only within Gnosticism, but all religions, all esoteric schools.
We can hear about how wonderful water tastes. How it nourishes our body. And yet we will be thirsty and starving, emaciated, weak, if we do not drink for ourselves.
This is the same nature of spiritual experience. It is refreshing to the soul. It is liberating. It is the essence of life. Without meditation we cannot drink from the fountain of God, which is the well of our own knowledge, our own inner wisdom, our Inner Being. It is through meditation that we refresh our souls. That we nourish our souls. That we become inspired.
It is fundamental. We cannot know divinity without meditation. It is the method that grants the capacity for transformation.
Annihilation and Subsistence
Transformation is essentially the purpose of our practice. We wish to cease suffering, to comprehend what in us gives us pain. Why do we not know divinity? What have we done that prevents our direct access with the truth?
We always state in these studies, every religion states in its esoteric heart, that the obstacle to interior illumination is the ego. The self. The "I." It is only when we die to the ego, eradicate the self, eliminate pride, fear, hatred, lust, that we can learn to approach divinity. We have been stating that our own conditions of mind obscure our consciousness from seeing the truth. This is well explained within Sufism.
They say that in order to know Allah, to experience the truth, the self must be annihilated. The Arabic term they use is fana. It means “annihilation.” When we die to our defects, when we annihilate the self, that multiplicity of defects: anger, resentment, fear, gluttony, etc., we extract the consciousness that was trapped, conditioned. That is how we generate light—the light of our soul that can allow us to see with intensity, with clarity, the profound mystical states of the Being.
The Sufis also state, when we have annihilated the self, we learn to subsist in divinity. We learn how to be, to be one with God. The term subsistence in Arabic is baqa. It is a profound term relating to Al-Baqarah, the second Surah of the Qur'an, “The Heifer,” “The Cow,” which relates to an aspect of our divinity known in different religions as the divine feminine, the Divine Mother, which the Muslims refer to as Baqarah.
That Surah is very profound. It is the longest in the the Qur’an. It refers to the verb, the power of speech, recitation, mantralization, which expresses the perfect unity of God.
Sufism in its heart, in its true expression, is a very profound and practical teaching through which we learn different levels of being, states of consciousness, elevated aspects of the soul and of divinity. We learned to subsist in our work, to continue in our path only through annihilation, fana. There is no way that we could obtain inspiration to continue in this work if we do not comprehend ourselves.
So we need help. We need inspiration. We need to feel joy in this path. It is very easy to sit in meditation, to observe in our day our own negative qualities of mind. If we only focus on the negative, our own morbidity, our pessimism, our despair, such feelings destroy the consciousness, enmesh oneself in suffering until eventually people abandon meditation because they don't see results.
States and Stations: Levels of Being
And this is the beauty of Sufism, is that we learn about the virtues of the soul, the higher levels of Being, the states of God. Which if we practice diligently, we learn to experience little by little, through gifts of divinity. Mystical states inspire us. They guide us in the work and help us to be consistent, to push ourselves, to be disciplined.
There are many different levels of being, as we stated in our previous lecture. Mystical states are dynamic. They are infinite. A mystical state does not necessarily have to focus on just some internal samadhi, ecstasy from the East, an experience out of the body, but can occur physically, when we understand something profoundly, when we feel joy, happiness, inspiration.
It is important to cultivate the virtues of the soul as we work on the ego. This is what creates balance. If we focus only on our hatred, on how dense the mind is, without comprehending the light, we will become very pessimistic, and such people eventually leave gnosis. They abandon meditation. They abandon what is best. So this is why in Sufism we study. In Gnosticism we study the stations and states of the path.
We explain that stations are levels of being which we acquire through work, initiation, degrees. The states of the soul are given to us from divinity in the moment as flashes of inspiration to help us continue in the path. States are gifts. Divinity provides us with light, but stations or initiations are earned. We need both. Without states of contentment, of magnanimity, of joy, of the power of the Being, we will not be motivated to work further.
Divinity seeks us. This is important to remember. The Being longs for realization of its own nature. We are part of the being and as Samael Aun Weor in The Revolution of the Dialectic stated, "The Being is the Being and the reason for the Being to be is to be the Being itself."
Our divinity wants to know itself and we are part of divinity. The soul is a mirror. It can reflect the images of hell, the infra-consciousness, or if it is polished, to give remembrance. We learn to reflect the heavens, which is something that Ibn ‘Arabi, a great Sufi master, taught in his Kitab al-Ahadiyyah, Treatise on the One Alone. Or as Bayazid Bastami stated, "For thirty years I sought God, but when I looked carefully, I found that in reality God was the seeker and I am the sought."
Inquietudes, yearnings of the soul—these are psychological pressures given to us in the heart from our inner Being to push us to return to Him, to Her. Without that we cannot rise up from our state of suffering.
In this way, we study the levels of being. There are infinite levels of being, but for the sake of clarity and organization, for the purposes of study, the Sufis referred to these mystical states in many ways. As we stated, they sometimes refer to seven states or stations. Forty. A hundred levels. A thousand levels. Really its infinite, but we refer to different systems of different Sufi schools to understand more about ourselves, the dynamism of the soul, the great breadth and profundity of the heart.
So these are degrees or initiations. The stations of the path., initiations that we earn. So the Sufi manuals of great Persian masters, especially, are very wonderful for knowing, contemplating the levels of being, the mystical ecstasies of the heart and the soul, which is why Samael Aun Weor in The Aquarian Message stated:
“The seven degrees of ecstasy through which the mystic reaches the perfect state of the soul are described in the school of Sufism. The school of Sufism teaches about ecstasy. The state and secret of our level [of Being] is revealed in Sufism, because this is the interior state of life in God." —Samael Aun Weor, The Aquarian Message
Ecstasy and Being
What is ecstasy? From the Latin exstatuo, “to stand outside oneself.” This means that we go beyond the mind, our current, everyday, mundane perception. We learn to stand on our own feet spiritually. We remove the conditions in mind so that the genie from Aladdin's lamp may be liberated, even if but temporarily.
The word ecstasy in Arabic is wajd, and ecstasy simply means spiritual experience free of the ego. In the East, they refer to these states as Samadhis. The same definition. Meditations and experiences free of limited physical conditions. They are internal perceptions. The Sufis sometimes refer to these as lights, as inspirations that shine within the heart.
So all these states come to us when we meditate. And as we are proving our consistency, our diligence, our commitment to the Being, we receive help. We receive guidance, because there are certain experiences and qualities that we cannot obtain on our own without help. And we'll talk more about what this involves within the schools of Sufism, especially.
In Gnosis, we refer to this as borrowed light. Sometimes masters of the White Lodge may provide us with experiences to help us, to push us. The Sufis call this barakah, blessings from a master that temporarily awaken the student in a very intense or heightened, clarified state of internal perception, such as in dream yoga, astral experiences, jinn states.
But in order to even receive that help, we have to be working. We have to develop ethical discipline as we explain about Sharia in our first lecture.
“Ecstasy (wajd), befalls the heart suddenly and unexpectedly, coming upon it without design or artificial prompting. Of this the shaykhs have said, ‘Ecstasies are sudden events, but they are the fruits of assigned devotions.’ God increases His kindnesses toward all who increase their spiritual practice.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
The ultimate spiritual practice is meditation, which is fueled by our work with energy. Such as through mantras, pranayama, transmutation. It is important to combine our exercises of Gnosis with meditation because as Samael Aun Weor wrote in The Spiritual Power of Sound:
“We can experience the Being, the Innermost, only through profound meditation. The experience of the Being, the Innermost, transforms us radically…
“It is completely impossible to experience the Being—the Innermost, the Reality—without becoming true technical and scientific masters of that mysterious science called meditation. It is completely impossible to experience the Being—the Innermost, the Reality—without having reached a true mastery of the quietude and silence of the mind.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Spiritual Power of Sound
So the Sufis and our teacher Samael Aun Weor state the same thing. We must work with our assigned devotions, meaning our meditations, our prayers, because divinity provides us with light for all those who increase their discipline, which is why the following quote continues.
“I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say that inner events arise out of systematic private devotions. He who has no assigned litany, in his outer being, has no spiritual influx in his inner being. An ecstasy that owes anything to the one who experiences it is not true ecstasy.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So what does it mean to have no assigned litany? It means to have no prayers or practice. Our tradition is replete with innumerable exercises: mantras, prayers, runes, pranayama, alchemy, sacred rites of rejuvenation, meditation. These exercises help to develop quietude of mind, serenity of thought, so that in the stillness of our consciousness, we can experience the truth.
These exercises are fundamental. However, we practice whatever we need in accordance with our level of being and our disposition. Obviously, some people will not be married and cannot practice alchemy until they do so. However, we work with energy: pranayama, runes, and most especially, meditation. Whether we are single or married, we must work with where we are at, so that through accumulating energy, saving our emotional energy, our mental energy, our sexual energy, we have the fuel necessary by which to discipline the mind. Because without energy, we cannot act.
This is why ethics, Shari’ah, is the beginning of religion. Save your energy. Do not waste it through the ego through explosions of anger, of resentment, of pride. It is inevitable that if we are fulfilling the necessary laws and requisites of the path, Shari’ah and Tariqah, we learn to experience the truth, Haqiqah. Through working with the influx of energy available to us when we meditate, we learn through rituals, exercises, practices, to focus our attention.
All of those exercises that work with energy help us with concentration and silence of mind. Without that we cannot have any experiences.
So it's important to establish that foundation First. That is the groundwork by which we enter samadhi, ecstasy, wajd.
“An ecstasy that owes anything to the one who experiences it is not true ecstasy,” said the Sufis, Abu Ali al-Daqqaq, the teacher of Qushayri in his Principles of Sufism.
This is a very subtle meaning. It means that certain experiences that are super normal, very elevated, are given to us as gifts, not because we have earned it, not because we have mastered it, or entered initiation, but because we are sincere and need help. We are yearning to know divinity and because we are practicing, the White Lodge looks upon us and says, “Let us help this disciple and provide an experience, an ecstasy so that it can validate the teaching for him or her.”
So it is very common in the beginning of Gnosis that as we save energy, we start to have experiences. Some people have very intense samadhis or astral projections that they cannot explain. They receive blessings and help which is known as “borrowed light” in our tradition. It is not light that we generate on our own, but we receive from God, from the prophets, because they want to show us something valuable. They want to show us that this teaching is real.
The Sufis call it barakah, blessings, and it is very common within the Muslim tradition to think of the saints, to worship the saints, to venerate them and to ask for their barakah, their blessings from holy shrines, temples, sacred spaces that have been the physical conduit where those masters lived and provided their divine force.
In a more profound level we can receive borrowed light, barakah, internally, when we are out of the physical body. When we stand outside of ourselves, literally, that is an astral projection, an ecstasy in which we are conscious of that dimension.
But all this is founded on our practice.
“Just as, in outward life, it is the ordinary daily transactions in which the servant engages that produce for him the sweetness of acts of worship, so, in inward life, the guidelines the servant confronts are what bring on his ecstasies. The sweetnesses of worship are the fruits of outer dealings, ecstasies are the results of inner efforts.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So, what is that sweetness of worship? When you are profoundly meditating, deeply enmeshed in your conversation with your Being, and you feel the elevation of your heart, the sweetness of the soul.
Outward worship at a temple is beautiful. It can be necessary for many people. Attending groups, Gnostic schools, can aid the disciple to feel that sweetness of worship through group practice. We also feel worship in the sweetness of the soul at our daily job, if we are conscious. We deal with people outwardly. We work to follow our own compassionate nature of the soul, raising our level of being in our work physically, and internally. And as we are working on our own negative states of mind, we are performing inner effort.
The internal is a reflection of the external. When your outward life reflects the beauty of your inward life, when you let virtue be your guide, your conscience, your motivation, we naturally develop the sweetness of the work. The joy of the work. We feel ecstasy when we comprehend anger and understand that a discovered defect is a dead defect.
We learn to stand outside of ourselves physically, at our jobs, at our work, in the bedroom. That means that you are observing yourself. The soul is observing the observed, which is the ego. We are standing outside of ourselves so that we can gather data, to comprehend the “I.” As we comprehend what the ego is, we feel joy.
This is what Samael Aun Weor stated, "The greatest joy of a gnostic is the discovery of one of his or her defects,” because when we separate from the mind, we see it for what it is and in that that way we can change. That gives us true ecstasy, joy.
I know people like to think that ecstasy is some samadhi in the clouds. While that is true, we get to that point when we stand outside of our ego as we work in self-observation, or as the Sufis refer to as inner-accounting, muhassabah. We have to take an account of our virtues and our defects. This is the result of inner effort, which develops the sweetness of the soul, and in that way we learn to access supra-conscious states.
There are states of being which everybody reads about and everybody craves. These are states of soul or Being that are at the top of the Tree of Life of the Kabbalah, which we studied previously in our lecture on stations. These are qualities of the Being that are very high, which we can only experience after annihilating the ego.
The Light, Unity, and Knowledge of the Being
Being in Arabic is known as wujud, and on the right of this slide we see Arabic calligraphy of the words Al-Nur, meaning “the light,” which is a very famous Surah in the Qur’an, of which we will relate some excerpts.
Al-Nur is the Being, the lights and purity of our own inner divine nature, which the Sufis and Muslims referred to as Allah. This is supraconsciousness, states of understanding that are omniscient, beyond the physical universe. They know how to see and travel throughout all the dimensions of the Tree of Life. So to reach that point, we have to meditate. The Sufis state:
“As for being or finding,” meaning to find God, “it follows on advancement out of wajd. There is no finding the Truth save after the extinction of the ordinary human condition, because when the power of reality manifests, the perception of material things cannot endure.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So these are samadhis or ecstasies, which happen outside the physical body, in which people commonly denominate as experiences. As a consciousness, we are in different dimensions of the Tree of Life as our physical body sleeps. To reach those very high experiences, we have to learn meditation. Suspend the physical senses. Relax the body. Calm the heart. Circulate the vital forces. Relax the mind and concentrate on the Being.
In the quietude the divinity within our very core nature manifests. This is how we learn to find our true nature, the Being, wujud, which is etymologically related to wajd, because the Being is ecstasy. It is a state of happiness that is so vast and limitless that it defies reasoning and bewilders the mind.
To reach that point, we have to lose our common everyday perception of what we think or who we think we are. This is the meaning of the saying by Abu-l Husayn al-Nuri, “For twenty years I have been finding and losing. When I found my Lord, I have lost my heart. And when I found my heart, I have lost my Lord."
There are many Sufis who write and talk about this principle, that to know God you have to lose yourself, but that tradition has not really explained any practical experiences or examples. You find those types of experiences very well explicated in the writings of Samael Aun Weor. For the purposes of this lecture, I will relate to you a samadhi that I experience as a consciousness many years ago.
I was practicing meditation, deeply concentrated, and I let my physical body fall asleep. I was undergoing an ordeal in the astral plane, which I conquered. And I was instructed and taught to project my soul through my crown chakra, the Church of Laodicea, which is the chakra relating to omniscience, polyvoyance, intuitive perception, intuitive clairvoyance. It is our link to the very heavens. And I remember pushing out through that chakra and I entered as a soul, divested of any bodies or vehicles, and returned to my own Ain Soph, which Samael Aun Weor relates to in his writings of Kabbalah.
It is our supra-atomic star, the synthesis of who we are, the real Being, which is a light that shines with glory and happiness in the absolute abstract space. And I as a soul had lost my identity as an individual, to what I thought I was, but was united with That. Pure ecstasy. Being. Wujud. However, I identified again with my mind. I lost the ecstasy and I fell back within the astral plane.
That was a beautiful moment of such joy that I don't forget or cease to think about every day of my life, because that is the real Being. The true identity. Our supra-individuality.
And I remember the saying of this Sufi initiate Abu-l Husayn al-Nuri, "When I found my Lord, I lost my heart, and when I found my heart, I lost my Lord." So in that moment, I was in samadhi, but then I thought about my mind back below and my consciousness got sucked back into existence. I identified with my own sense of self and became forgetful of that light.
It is interesting that even the name of Abu-l Husayn Al-Nuri, his name literally means "beautiful light" in Arabic. So many of the Sufi masters took on names, very symbolic and Kabbalistic, profound. Hassan, Hussein, relates to Ihsan, beautiful action—the beauty or light of the soul, or in Kabbalah, Tiphereth, the human consciousness.
Al-Nuri is the light. The light of Ain Soph, as we see in this calligraphy. It is the beauty of the light. It is supra-consciousness. Happiness without limitations. The limitless. It is the unity of perfect expression of the divine.
This is why the Sufis also state:
“It is also the meaning of the saying of Junayd, ‘The knowledge of Unity is contrary to its existence, and its existence is contrary to the knowledge of it.’” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So I'm relating to you this experience with my intellect, with words, but intellectual knowledge of that unity, Ain Soph, is contrary to its existence, because words fail to describe or to attribute anything relating to the Being. Its existence is contrary to Its knowledge or our knowledge of It.
The Shahadah: Declaring the Unity of God
So what is the unity in Islam? They pronounce the Shahadah, the Muslim declaration of faith:
“There is no god but God and Muhammad is His Prophet.”
lā ʾilāha ʾillā Llāh, Muḥammadun rasūlu Llāh (in Arabic).
There are many Muslims who pronounce this prayer, but knowing this phrase in the intellect is one thing, knowing it from experience is something else. Shahadah means “witnessing, to bear witness,” to experience the truth.
And what does it mean to submit to God in Arabic? Islam. Many people follow the tradition, physically thinking that through certain adaptation or adoption of prayers, rituals, behaviors, that one somehow is now following God. But it is important to remember that Shahadah, to witness the divine, comes from mushahadah, contemplation, meditation.
The Ain Soph is Allah in Arabic. The limitless. It is a point in space that is our own true light that wants to have cognizance of Its own happiness, Its own true nature. Allah in Arabic comes from أل Al and the syllable لا La, which literally means “The No,” “The Nothing,” “The emptiness,” which is the Buddhist Shunyata, the abstract light of perfect Seity, devoid of common individuality, that is a form of light, our true nature, Al-Nur. That beautiful light is our own star that guides our interior, which calls us back with longing, which seeks us so that we can return with knowledge to It.
There's a Surah in the Qur’an that relates this principle. From Surah Al-Nur (24:35):
“Allah is the light of the heavens (the nine sephiroth) and the Earth (Malkuth, the kingdom or bottom of the Tree of Life). The example whose light is like a [niche] within a lamp (a niche is a supra-atomic point, the synthesis, the Being). The lamp is within a glass, (which reminds us of hermetic science, the science of alchemy), the glass as if it were a pearly white star lit from the oil of a blessed olive tree…” ―Surah Al-Nur 35
That pearly white star is the light of our true nature in the heavens, Allah, Ain Soph, which we learn to experience by working with the oil of the blessed olive tree, known in Middle Eastern science as alchemy, Allah Khemia: the work with energy. That light, that oil, is:
“…neither from the east or the west.” ―Surah Al-Nur 35
That tree is neither of the east or the west. On the Tree of Life relating to the sphere of Tiphereth, the East, and Malkuth, the West. The sunrise rises in Tiphereth, the East, which is the goal of our path. To rise up the Tree of Life with light. But if we fall down from Malkuth into the West when the sun sets, we die spiritually. We lose inspiration, allegorically speaking, Kabbalistically speaking.
“Whose oil would almost glow even if untouched by fire.” ―Surah Al-Nur 35
We speak abundantly in our studies of the work with the oil, which is a symbol of our sexual matter and energy, which we learn to transform with chastity and purity so that that energy, elevated, is used by the soul, untouched by fire or lust.
“Light upon light. Allah guides to His light whom He wills and Allah presents parables (symbols, experiences) for the people and Allah is knowing of all things.” ―Surah Al-Nur 35
So we know in Kabbalah that Ain Soph, the Being, is beyond the Tree of Life. It is the negation of all that is existent. It is our true existence, which is non-existence. It is the negation of the self, the complete annihilation of individuality as we conceive it, of grasping at "me, myself, I."
It is only when we fully die, even if only for a moment, that we can enter samadhi, ecstasy. Ibn ‘Arabi speaks abundantly about the unity of God. He says that only divinity can comprehend Himself. So it is a very beautiful teaching, very subtle. While I am telling you that, conventionally-speaking, that my soul united with my own Ain Soph with that experience, it wasn't me knowing myself, but the Being through my soul.
It is a very thorny issue in theology. Very confusing for people who don't meditate. We can think of divinity as light, even as a person who can only know himself by looking in a mirror. That mirror is our soul, is our heart. If we purify the heart, we can reflect the light and therefore divinity gains consciousness of Its own true nature. He witnesses himself through the mirror of the soul.
“With this sense they recite: I find my true existence in vanishing from existence. And from all apparent evidence I see.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So true existence is the Being. It means vanishing from everything that is not that source. We know from our studies of initiation and the Tree of Life that we work in successive degrees, ascending to higher states of consciousness until finally at the very end of the path, we abandon everything that is manifested in this universe to return to that light. The yogis of India refer to this perfect bliss, knowledge, and Being absolute in Sanskrit terms: Sat Chit Ananda.
Sivananda writes about this very beautifully in his books. We can think of it as object, subject, union. These terms or principles describe the perfect state of ecstasy, in which the Being is the object. The soul is the subject and the union is completed. So in that experience the soul that is my true nature was united with That. The light was the light and one could see oneself as both the Being and the soul in union.
This is the meaning of religion, from the Latin religare. Reunion. In Sufism, they refer to this type of experience as Madkhur, the Invoked, which is the Being; Dhakr, the Invoker, who is the dervish or the soul; Dhikr, the Invocation: the call upon the divine, the consciousness of the divine.
In other terms, we say it is the Remembered, the Rememberer, and the Remembrance. It is in that state that the Being has cognizance of Its own happiness. This is the purpose of our spiritual work. To return to that abstract joy. That perfect Being. It is for our own Ain Soph, our own true star, light, and ecstasy of divinity, to have cognizance of That known as Paranishpanna in the writings of Samael Aun Weor.
This is known in Sufism and Islam as the Day of Alast: the covenant made between the soul and Allah, that the soul will return to divinity through the path. This is scripturally validated in the following verses from the Qur’an, Surah 7, verse 172 (Surah Al-Ar’af):
"And mention when your Lord took you from the children of Adam, from their loins—their descendants, and made them testify of themselves saying to them, ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They said ‘Yes, we have testified.’ This less you should say on the Day of Resurrection, ‘Indeed we were of this unaware.’” ―Ar’af 172
So there is a very famous verse within Islam. Many people think it refers to the literal people of Adam and his descendants making a covenant with God. That they will return to their upright ways of living. Some people say this took place physically at Nu’man a valley near Arafat. There are other interpretations of the Qur’an known as tafsir, exegeses, or commentaries on that scripture, that this occurred when Adam descended to the Earth metaphysically. Some say before that or even after. Other Sufis and other initiates comment that it happened in heaven.
This is actually a metaphysical experience. Meaning, we all originated from our own Ain Soph, who is our true nature, our light, which sends its light down the Tree of Life into different matters, energy, into consciousness, forms of expression, so that it can return inward and upward, back to the source with knowledge. “Happiness is not true happiness without cognizance of That.” It is a very Kabbalistic statement by Samael Aun Weor, which you can read about in Tarot and Kabbalah, especially.
So the Being says, “Am I not your Lord? Am I not your true identity?” And that is our covenant. To return to the source, the synthesis of who we are. This is the voice of the silence. It is the source of our own longings and inquietudes. Our deep yearnings for studying this type of doctrine is to know That. To know the unity.
Mythomania and Mystical Experiences
So while many people think that these kinds of mystical states or experiences are indicators of progress, what happens with many people is that while having those types of experiences, many students and even instructors, followers of different traditions or teachings, become confused. They have those experiences and then they return to their body saying “I am a master. I am a great Being. I am liberated!”
What they don't understand is that those kind of experiences are merely states given to us by divinity as a gift. They do not signify that we have entered and subsisted in that state through initiation. We can have those experiences, states of liberation temporarily, but to really be permanently united in That, is a very lofty goal. Very difficult.
As Samael Aun Weor stated:
"Some hermits who isolated themselves within caves, based on rigorous disciplines, attained the ecstasy of the saints and were taken up to heaven. There they saw and heard things that are not easily comprehended by human beings. Nevertheless, their “I’s” continued to exist within their interior.
"Unquestionably, the Essence [consciousness or soul], through rigorous discipline, can escape from within the “I”; thus, it enjoys ecstasy. However, after such bliss, the Essence returns into the interior of the “myself.”
"Those who have become accustomed to ecstasy without having dissolved the ego believe that they have already reached liberation. They fool themselves by believing themselves to be Masters. They even enter into the submerged devolution [descent and destruction within the hell realms of nature, the inferior planes of Klipoth].
"Nonetheless, we are not pronouncing ourselves against mystical ecstasy, against the ecstasy and happiness of the soul while in the absence of the ego. We only want to place emphasis on the necessity of dissolving “I’s” [achieving fana: annihilation] in order to achieve the final liberation.
"The Essence of any disciplined hermit, accustomed to escaping from within the “I,” repeats such a feat after the death of his physical body. Then, his Essence enjoys the ecstasy for some time. Yet, after such time, his Essence returns as the Genie of Aladdin’s lamp, back into the interior of the lamp, the ego, the myself.
"Thereupon, he has no other choice but to return into a new physical body with the purpose of repeating his life on the stage of existence.
"Many mystics who lived and died in the caverns of the Himalayas in central Asia reincarnated again and are now vulgar, common and current people in this world, in spite of the fact that their followers still adore and venerate them.
"Therefore, any attempt at liberation, no matter how great it might be, if it does not take into consideration the necessity of dissolving the ego, it is condemned to failure." ―Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
This is why in our tradition we speak abundantly about mythomania. There are people who have genuine experiences of God in different levels and because they don't study the doctrine, they get confused. They think they are gods. Mythomania comes from myth of manas, the Sanskrit term for mind. It means “to make a myth of the mind.” The mind thinks it is great, that it is God, but the mind is just the devil. As I explained that experience I had, I left behind my mind, my devil. However, when I identified with my mind again, I lost the experience, falling down into the astral plane, losing the ecstasy.
While that was a beautiful experience, I would never dare make the mistake to think that that is my permanent level. It was a gift. People get confused because they have those experiences but don't really evaluate the quality of their mind. They are not stations: permanent, established, levels of Being. They are states that come and go as blessings from God.
The Definition of States
So let us define what a state is according to the Sufi manuals of the great masters, especially Al-Qushayri from his Principles of Sufism.
“According to the Sufis, a state is a spiritual influence that arrives in the heart without their intending, contriving or earning it, such as joy or sorrow or expansion and contraction or desire or agitation, or awe, or need.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So these are experiences that we receive without intending it, without earning it. And that samadhi that I related to you, that was given to me without my intention and definitely without my earning it. However, I had been disciplined in my practices and was given the gift in order to relate it to this type of knowledge, to clarify things.
So other states such as experiences of that nature can sometimes be even more or less intense, but still very beautiful and profound, like joy or expanding our consciousness. Sometimes there are states that are contracted. We become focused on one thing. Expansion is a type of diffusion into space with a clarified awareness. Contraction is more concentrated, as if we are focusing only on one thing. A very disciplined contracted will. Very strong attention, which also can be as state, a gift, or a desire, or longing, to be agitated in a spiritual sense, to be filled with awe, yearning, or longing for God.
“While stations are earned, the states (ahwal) are gifts. The stations are attained through the expenditure of effort, but the states appear from the fount of generosity. The possessor of a station is confirmed in it…” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
…or has reached that level of being, has achieved The Major Mysteries according to Samael Aun Weor.
“The possessor of a state is transported beyond it.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So I claim that that experience I had was a gift. I am still in the process of working on myself. Hopefully that I will return to That, to be transported to That. But in order for that to happen, we have to work from the ground up.
“Dhul-Nun al-Misri was asked about the gnostic and said, ‘He was here, and he left.’” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So what is the true gnostic? A true Sufi, one who is perfected marif’ah, knowledge of God. Knowledge of the truth, and therefore, his or her states and stations are beyond our comprehension. So while that person can be physically present with us, consciously-speaking, they are aware of all the dimensions of nature. Here and now. “He was here and then he left.”
Such beings are very difficult to comprehend at our level because they can access all dimensions of the Tree of Life with will, with intentionality. They are not limited to one sphere. But for us, we find that states are temporary. They come and go. We can be meditating, introspecting, contemplating a verse from a scripture, concentrating on an image of divinity, whether a holy figure, or something as simple as a mandala, a stone, a picture. We can be reflecting on the virtues of our own consciousness, of our Being. And, states suddenly emerge in the screen of our awareness. You suddenly see a landscape, a place, a group of people, a conversation, a symbol, a form of life, images, sounds. These appear directly before us and we are both witnesses and participants. These are flashes of understanding or inspiration. Imagination. If we understand the import of those experiences, we develop intuition, understanding of what those states are communicating.
The Momentariness of States
“Some of the shaykhs have said, ‘The states are like lightning flashes.’” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Meaning, these experiences come upon the heart suddenly, without expectation. When we cease thinking.
“If one seems to continue, it is self-deception." ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Many times in our practices, especially in the beginning, we are meditating and we have an experience. We see an image, a sound, a symbol with the type of clarity that is very expensive or clear, and suddenly when we realize what is happening, we return to our body, back to our asana (posture). Those experiences are very temporary. They come in flashes, and then we are stuck in the mind again, seeing all sorts of contents, memories, anxieties, fears, worries that continue on and on. This is the meaning of how if these states seem to continue, it is self-deception.
We have states of the soul that are very clear, very profound, and have a particular taste that is distinct. Therefore we have to learn to sift through the mind and understand that genuine states of the soul appear like lightning. They appear, then they vanish. So we should question our mind. Be very diligent to understand that not everything we see in ourselves is going to be objective. If it seems to continue onward, like all the chain of associative thinking we know of, that is self-deception. That is the ego.
“And they have said, “The states are as their name,” [the verb hala means ‘to change’ or ‘to pass’], meaning that immediately as they come upon the heart, they vanish. They recite: Did it not change, it would not be called a state And everything that changes vanishes. Look at the shadow whenever it draws to an end. It begins its diminution when it has grown long.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
Validating Internal Experiences
So it is important that we understand something very essential. Having experiences is not enough. Having mystical states is not sufficient. We have to learn to verify what we see.
Scriptures allow us and show us understanding of what these types of ecstasies are. We have to both have experiences, but also read, study, reflect. When we see that our own experiences are reflected within the writings of the great prophets, we develop faith. We don't get confused. We understand precisely what God was telling us, and therefore we have no doubt as to what we know.
Personally, I have had many experiences that I witnessed firsthand, internally, and only later found evidence physically of what that meant. In the case of that experience I related to you, there are other symbols relating to that vision, that ecstasy, that I confirmed in many writings in order to evaluate its objectivity. And in that way I have faith. I know what that experience was communicating and so there is no confusion or doubt.
So many times we can read the writings of Samael Aun Weor, the Qur’an, the scriptures, any of the experiences that, before we read about them, we have.
I believe I related in our previous lectures knowing about the Tree of Life before reading about it. The ten spheres. the ten sephiroth. It is actually very beautiful to have that experience and then later confirm it. It shows us that we are progressing and that we are on strong ground.
We have to learn that we must not only be practical meditators, but studious disciples. We have to read and know the knowledge in depth. This is known as intellectual spiritual culture. Our knowledge, our studies, help us to clarify and decipher our internal experiences.
So we can have those types of experiences, but if we don't know the Kabbalah, the Tree of Life, the nature of the path, we will be very lost. We will be receiving messages from divinity, but not having the knowledge to interpret.
Samael Aun Weor mentions that Kabbalah is the language of the internal worlds. We need to have intellectual spiritual culture. This means: have a very good knowledge of every tradition, especially the Gnostic tradition, so that we learn to be balanced, because many people can have experiences and think that they are objective. But if those experiences go against our ethics, the writings of the prophets, then we are deluded, we are confused. So experiences have to coincide with the writings. Otherwise, we will be in error. We will make false judgments and can make mistakes.
Which is why Abu Sulayman stated in Principles of Sufism (by Al-Qushayri):
“Sometimes one of the subtle sayings of the Sufis stays in my heart for days, but I will not accept it save on [the testimony of] two just witnesses: the Qur’an and the Sunnah.” ―Abu Sulayman al-Darani in Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So we have to rely on the teachings of the prophets, those who walked the path before. That is because these initiates have very high levels of attainment. They have a lot of awakened consciousness and can explain things for us that are very difficult. We have to learn to study from masters of Major Mysteries, the prophets, people who really established themselves in accordance with hierarchy, meaning their level being is very high, such as Jesus, Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna, Moses, Khidr in the Qur’an, Samael Aun Weor.
We have to study from masters whom we have validated, whom we know are objective. This is important because many people in our studies have committed crimes and even lost their sanity because they lacked culture. They had experiences that told them that such and such person is a black magician, a sorcerer, a demon. Or, experiences that are contrary to our fundamental ethics of how to behave in life, and therefore they literally committed crimes. You can read about this type of dynamic in Samael Aun Weor's book Sexology: The Basis of Endocrinology and Criminology, where he communicates the link between spiritual perception and the criminal code.
Internal States and Spiritual Facts
The foundational of reason why people make mistakes is because they have internal states that do not coincide with facts. They don't know how to interpret what they see. This is why study and practice is essential. Study the true sources of meditative knowledge, because:
“Being and knowing must be balanced to establish a sudden blaze of comprehension within our psyche. When knowing is greater than being, it causes all kinds of intellectual confusion. If being is greater than knowing, it can produce cases as serious as that of a stupid saint.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Great Rebellion
Study is knowledge and practice is being.Together we produce comprehension. People who study a lot but don't experience become pessimistic, morbid, defeatist, confused. It is because they read about experiences that they don't have and wish that they can have that kind of knowledge for themselves, and feel covetous of those who do. They become dark, pessimistic, morbid, angry, envious.
It is important to really balance the two, because there are those who even have a lot of experiences, but don't have knowledge. They become stupid saints. They can receive knowledge from God, but because they can't interpret, they are stupid in a very blunt sense. They don't know how to relate their experiences to physical life. They don't know how to make their inner experiences practical for themselves, what those messages mean, because initiation is our own life lived intensely with rectitude and love.
So balance the two. Read the doctrine, study the books, but meditate. Meditate on what you read. We have to learn to digest all the beautiful symbols and concepts and understandings we get from our teachers, the prophets, the scriptures. And if you have experiences, learn to find books and teachings that explain what those are.
In my case, I remember having that one experience long ago before I even knew certain aspects of Kabbalah. I united with Ain Soph, but I was bewildered because I didn't understand the real depth of that experience. I knew it was my Being, but I didn't know how that related to the Tree of Life, the Kabbalah. Now, studying that aspect of this teaching, it has become very clear. Therefore I am no longer confused about what it meant.
Over the years of even studying more and more, I’m seeing that arch an experience is not particular to me, but it is mentioned in many cosmogonies and writings of great authors. Great yogis, great prophets. So I don't claim that this is something only special to a few people, because we all have that inside. We all can experience that. But it takes a type of work and blessings from divinity.
But learning to decipher what we see, what states we experiences, we have to learn to combine knowledge and being, as I said. That statement by Samael Aun Weor is corroborated by the Sufis:
“The best of states is that which goes together with knowledge.” ―Nahrajuri in Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
“Any mystical state that is not the fruit of formal religious knowledge brings more trouble than benefit to the one who experiences it.” ―Abu Amr bin Nujayd in Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
This is all based on ethics. We can have an experience internally that we are told we are a great God and that we should do such and such a thing, even when that action contradicts divine law, the ethics of the soul, upright behavior, upright thinking, upright feeling. There are many people in Gnosis who have committed crimes, made terrible mistakes because they did not study the doctrine. They were confused by a negative, subjective, egotistical state, thinking that they were in samadhi, that they were in ecstasy, when the truth is that they were just confused, by the ego, by Shaitan, the adversary, our ego, al-nafs, nafas, the soul or the lower soul.
So any mystical state must be corroborated by the doctrine, otherwise it brings trouble. So if you have those experiences that are confusing or dark, that don't coincide with the knowledge, then you have to discriminate, meditate, interpret, look for the source. And if that type of state is contrary to the law, then disregard it.
We have to be very exact with our concepts. Logical thought and exact concept are necessary in order to develop spiritual perception, says Samael Aun Weor, I believe in the book on Sexology: The Basis of Endocrinology and Criminology.
This is why we study the lives of the prophets. The Sunnah, the scriptures. This is so we know how to live ethically. Ethics empowers our actions and our actions influence our spiritual states. Our spiritual devotions physically is what determines what states we will experience.
There is a famous Hadith in the Muslim oral tradition which emphasizes this point: how our actions permeate everything we are mentally, physically, emotionally, instinctually, sexually. Prophet Muhammad was known to have stated:
“The outer law (shari'ah) is my word, the spiritual path (tariqah) my actions, and the inner reality (haqiqah) my inner states.” ―Prophet Muhammad
So these three levels of instruction: Shari’ah, Tariqah, and Haqiqah, are essential when we study mystical states.
Everything is based upon our ethics or code of conduct, which is the path of the heart. Without that foundation we cannot have true inner states or knowledge, Haqiqah: the experience of the Being, which is embodied in the life of any prophet.
So of course we emphasize again, develop your ethics. Question what you see in your mind stream. Without that we cannot discriminate with objectivity.
When we work effectively in the path, we progress into higher states of consciousness. This is always occurs in accordance with the death of the ego. There are masters prophets who, due to hierarchy, they enter incredibly vast, beautiful states that for average persons is inaccessible, incomprehensible. There is a particular beauty to studying what is known as progressive states (ahwal) because there are prophets who were so elevated in their level of being, that it is very difficult to understand. But, they can inspire us to change, to reach those heights. We have to learn to remove the covers of our perceptions. Remove the veil, the egos, through vigilance.
I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq speak about the saying of the Prophet, “Something covers my heart so that I ask forgiveness of God Most High seventy times a day.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So this has to do with our work of self-observation. We see things many times, in our mind, that are very negative. And so we learn to ask forgiveness for our faults. We don't have to have any prayer formula, but remorse. This is what this quote from the Prophet means. We are taking account of our own internal states, our egotistical states, so that we can enter superior spiritual states, experiences.
“He said that the states of the Prophet were always in progressive development. When he moved from one condition to a higher one, it would sometimes happen that his attention returned to what he had advanced beyond. He used to count this ‘a covering’ compared to what he was attaining in the immediate condition, for his states were always in increase.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
So while this may not apply to us, this is something important to acknowledge. Advanced initiates enter states progressively higher and higher, in accordance with the death of desire, by descending into the subconsciousness, the unconsciousness, the infra-consciousness.
So a prophet that has moved very far beyond the ego, still needs to go even higher and higher, because they are refining their consciousness very much. So a profound mystical state which to us can be very high, could be a barrier for a prophet. Because they are developing so much that they are always entering higher states of infinitude, which of course is very difficult to comprehend where we are at, but with practice and meditation we understand more.
These are the levels of being which as Abdul Karim al-Jili stated "The path to God is short. The path in God is infinite. " So even upon attaining union with divinity, there are levels of knowledge of God which go higher. States that go even deeper into that source.
"The Truth’s capacities for depth and subtlety are without end. And since honor is due to the Truth. It is impossible to fully attain this; the servant is always involved in the refinement of his states. No spiritual significance is conveyed to anyone unless there is in his destiny something beyond it, to which it may transport him. This is the point of the saying, “What is good in the righteous is bad in those brought closer to God.” Junayd was asked about this, and recited: Explosions of light glitter when they appear Making a secret visible and giving news of unification.” ―Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism by Al-Qushayri
These explosions of light are samadhis, experiences, states. And they are a brief allusion to what true unification is, true religion, unity, the Being.
We will conclude with a quote from Samael Aun Weor. The basis of our meditation is silence and perception. Concentration and imagination produce comprehension. Concentration and imagination produce ecstasy, illumination, understanding. When our mind is calm like a lake, it can reflect the heavens. We can reflect superior states.
“Illumination and ecstasy come when the mind is silent, when the mind is quiet. Drowsiness in combination with meditation produces ecstasy. God searches the nothingness in order to fill it.” ―Samael Aun Weor, The Aquarian Message
So if we wish to have those types of experiences, we must become empty. Empty of ego. Annihilate the ego. Abandon the ego, because in that nothingness, we can experience the true plenitude in beauty of God, who is a state of consciousness beyond all evidence and materiality. So it's good that we learn to study these states and even comprehend that there are levels and levels to that type of experience. And that is possible for us. Without that context, it is difficult to motivate ourselves, to know that there is a goal and that we can obtain it with patience and tenacity.
Questions and Answers
Question: I like to ask whether or not you know, besides just the telling us to okay meditate and quietude and things like that: did the Sufis have any specific practices that are, you know, that is known, that we can learn about?
Instructor: Yes, they speak abundantly about invocation and very commonly within the Sufi schools, they practice what's known as Dhikr, which means “remembrance” in Arabic. It can also mean invocation. In simple terms, this means mantra. Many Sufis will spend decades in their schools, in their masjid, under the jurisdiction or guidance of a Sheikh, a guru, a teacher, utilizing certain mantras.
So a very common one is Allah Hu Allah. They say these mantras out loud, repeatedly and in groups together, in unison, and many times they even encompass these mantras with dance, which is a very sacred form of religion. There has been a lot of controversy especially within the Muslim orthodoxy towards the Sufi schools, especially the Mevlevis, those who practice with the school of Rumi, the whirling dervishes in which those types of dances have been criticized.
But the purpose of any of those exercises like dance, sacred songs, and mantra, is in order to invoke energy. So they want to make sure that they unify song, mantra, movement in order to invoke divinity, and in that way, they bring in good energy. That energy helps to silence the mind, to concentrate the mind, to obtain serenity. Primarily because serenity is developed by working with sacred sounds.
The Sufis place emphasis on this. The mantra Allah Hu Allah relates to divinity on the Tree of Life, which is Ain Soph, Kether, Chokmah, Binah. As well as “Hu,” which means Spirit, Chesed: the Compassionate, the Merciful, which is why in the Qur’an it teaches Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim: “In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful.”
The Sufis would recite this mantra Allah Hu Allah. Those mantras help the Sufis to obtain union with God. So in that experience I related, I was experiencing my own inner Allah or experiencing the Absolute. Through 'Hu,’ which relates to the breath, the Spirit. So the breath is deeply related, the mantras are deeply related with energy, with the divine.
They also perform exercises of dream yoga, but especially by working with mantra. A lot of the exercises that the Sufis practice in the most esoteric sense are very well hidden, which is why you won't find many aspects of that doctrine publicized. However, from the writings of Samael Aun Weor, it is easy to see that there are exercises that they do in secret, especially alchemy. Transmutation. Meditation. I remember even being on YouTube and looking at a video clip of Sufi group. They were performing Ham-Sah. They were spinning performing the dervishes and breathing Ham Sah in unison, with music, in harmony. So the Sufis know this doctrine, but they don't publicize many hidden roots that we study openly. But there is that relationship there.
Question: Thank you for the explanation and I'm guessing that you know, the Sufis practice, even though not very publicized or published, that the the practices from Master Samael, like you said Ham-Sah, they are probably pretty much include a lot of what Sufis do, right?
Instructor: Yes. Remember that Sufism is still a very Piscean tradition. They are very well known for their conservative nature, keeping their most esoteric practices hidden. That tradition is especially very occluded, meaning: they don't give their practices openly, but the truth is that they do practice the whirling dervishes, such as the sacred rites [of rejuvenation], which we have many similarities to. But their knowledge is not given openly.
The Aquarian knowledge is very different. With the Aquarian doctrine these practices are available to everybody. We don't need to attend a [physical] teacher, a Sheikh, a Guru, a master, to receive these practices. They are available to anybody [Editor’s Note: However, the true master is not to be found in the physical world, but within our own consciousness]. The Age of Pisces was known for its system of instruction in which a Sheikh or master would have to individually pick a student and teach them directly from mouth to ear. Without that, they would not provide their knowledge openly and so they still maintain that system very diligently.
So it would be very difficult to find any of those schools explaining some of the things we are doing here, because with the Aquarian knowledge, in the Age of Aquarius, the exercises for transformation are given openly. The only one who had authority to really do so with the accordance with the White Lodge was Samael Aun Weor, specifically.
Question: I have a question regarding something you said in the beginning about discipline of practice. In the book study ,that one of the first chapters in the book [Fundamentals of Gnostic Education] talks about discipline and the need to not have discipline. Now. I am guessing that you mean something else than what Samael Aun Weor is talking about by discipline and I'm wondering what it is that you mean when you say talk about discipline and practice.
Instructor: Sure, so the statement that the Master Samael Aun Weor makes in Fundamentals of Gnostic Education is a reference to the kind of rigid systems that people adopt intellectually in the mind, especially in relation to certain studies, such as at schools or academies. That type of discipline of intellectual study and eclectic approaches to any kind of field of knowledge, without a practical dimension, is useless.
It is useless to study any discipline of any field, whether in astronomy, science, anything—if it's not grounded in some type of practical work. So in the context of that book, he is referring a lot to the tendency in people to want to merely leave everything in the intellect through rigorous intellectual discipline, like getting a doctorate or PhD or being very obtuse in one's knowledge, specific to one thing that really doesn't address the heart, or the soul.
Real spiritual discipline is when we work on the mind. Samael Aun Weor speaks abundantly in other books, like Igneous Rose, that we must submit ourselves to profound esoteric discipline, which means meditate. Restrain the mind. Conquer the mind. But the danger is, especially with analysis or any religion, that we just study things intellectually and leave it there. The problem with that is that we may have a lot of knowledge intellectually, a lot of discipline intellectually, taking a lot of time in our schedule to read a lot, but not having any practice. It makes people unbalanced.
The essence of real spiritual discipline is combining our meditation with some type of study. One without the other is useless. But combining the two, we produce comprehension. Hope that answers your question.
Question: I think so. It reminds me of, I read about like lunar celibacy versus solar celibacy, and it seems like it's the difference between, I guess intellectually, deciding I'm going to do something or maintaining a rigid form of how something's going to go versus a preparation for which means an open-mindedness. So you're still involved. It's still very involved but it's how you're involved. Is that the way you participate differentiates discipline versus discipline?
Instructor: Real esoteric discipline involves both knowledge and being. We have to combine our studies with meditation. If we don't meditate on what we study, our understanding will be very shallow. But when you combine the two, spiritual experiences, with study of the doctrine, then it's very easy to remove any errors. We don't get confused.
In relation to lunar and solar celibacy, that is a little bit of a different practice. But yes, people who are commonly practicing what's called celibacy, they may read a lot of Christian writings or any other religion or teaching, but they don't really understand the practice of transmutation, working with the body and the energies, and so that's an incomplete discipline, which can relate to this dynamic. People can study that aspect of yoga and religion, but because they lack a practical dimension of what those traditions teach, they are confused and they suffer a lot. But real discipline is when we combine esoterically meditation, transmutation, service for others. Knowledge and being have to be united. Without that we don't comprehend anything.
Question: My question is about the stages of meditation and Master Samael Aun Weor talks about in Igneous Rose that appearing in the vision of the meditator, in a daily basis of the meditator. Like not particularly in the meditation session. I don't know if you are familiar with that quote.
Instructor: So you are saying that to have that experience is some kind of vision even when not in meditation?
Question: Yes. I think he called it color yellow, color red and I believe the third one is blue, and it's sort of like a stage. I believe he explains them as a stages of concentration you are maintaining throughout the day. How should we, if we receive that, how should you look? Is that like a phenomena? An experience? Is it something earned? It seems like it's coming and going and coming again. How should you look upon those things?
Instructor: Samael Aun Weor mentions in Igneous Rose that as we develop our meditative practice we learn to start seeing visions and images, even when being physically active. He refers to this as clairvoyance, spiritual perception, which can form as a type of psychic imagery in the mind, the consciousness, the third eye between our eyebrows. He explains how if we're really diligent about meditation, we will start to understand more things relating to our daily life.
You can be physically active involved in other activities, at work, being with people, and he explains how suddenly we may start to perceive psychic imagery—understanding of the thoughts, emotions, and motives of other people. He refers to this as clairvoyance. It is a profound form of concentration, our attention, of where we are focused, on what we are doing. In that way we start to become inspired by what we see in other people and ourselves.
He also explains in other books that inspirational knowledge pertains to our understanding of interrelations, interdependence, how our thoughts and the thoughts and emotions of others, interrelate—to see that in a conscious way. It can occur with imagery, understanding other people based on that kind of perception, which doesn't have to just occur when we are sitting in our posture, in a silent room in the dark with eyes closed.
It is good to see more and more things, more internal states in relation to external events in the process of meditating. The Sufis speak a lot about this too. We have to learn to match our internal state with the external event, and that comes about by understanding what we perceive. So questioning our internal states, which can be positive or negative, we can learn how to judge, to comprehend, and images can occur as we are interacting with people. It happens quite often and it will happen more with greater clarity as we are refining our meditative practice too.
Question: In the same line, I would say, how can we understand that at the same moment without letting the mind doing the judgment? You know, if you feel something from someone, let's say the mind labels it as a negative, but you know that it isn't actually negative. Everything is a lesson and every everybody has their own Being. So how can we have all the situation's going into the positive or constructive way, even though they appear at the surface as a gossip or it's something that we don't want, you know, to happen?
Instructor: Comprehension occurs as a result of following our inner judgment. That voice of conscience that says this is right and this is wrong. In most cases we tend to follow our mind, which can be clouded, if confused and burdened with a lot of negative emotion. In order to understand what we experience and what is objective, we have to follow our heart. Your heart will tell you that this situation is negative or positive, or this internal state is wrong or good. The only issue is that as you've mentioned, or you’ve implied, we have a lot of ego. It is difficult to discern what is positive and what is negative, what is objective.
So the solution is, because our senses are very deceiving, our mind is very deceiving, even our emotions can be very deceiving, we have to learn how to clarify our attention. This is really the value of meditative practice, is that after a day of self-observation, in which you have seen or witnessed certain things, we have acted our best in the different circumstances of our jobs or family life, we go home, we sit, we relax, we suspend our senses. We work with energy. Circulate the vital force, through pranayama, mantras, or even sexual alchemy if one is married.
When meditating and looking deep within, visualizing that event that we have questions about, put that scene in the screen of our imagination and try to picture everything that happened. But without adding to or taking away.
Be honest. So learning to be honest is a combination of two things. Sincerity is developed in the moment when we see a state or action in us that is negative. Or we sense a negative thing. We may not act perfectly in the moment. In many cases, we tend to follow what our ego wants and we feel the consequences, the suffering resulting from that. So that internal state influenced the external events of our job or our daily activities. And if we feel that pain and suffering and remorse, and even if we acted rightly in the situation, meaning, we felt that we followed our heart and produced a situation beneficial for everybody, still we go home, we meditate, we close our eyes, visualize the scene, and imagine everything that happened relating to that moment.
What was the event? Who is involved? Where did it take place? What time of the day? And going even deeper, what was our mood? What were the thoughts associated with that moment? What were the feelings, the actions that we took, whether for good or for ill? And to ask our Divine Being our Divine Mother, al-Baqarah in Islam, the sacred cow, the divine feminine, to show us what in us needs to be understood.
In many cases, we have too many Impressions entering our mind stream in a moment, which can be very intense and difficult to control and to decipher. So if we get overloaded by that event and may have acted wrongly, we should learn to say, “Well, I made a mistake or I think I did well in this situation, but let me go home later and meditate and examine that situation deeply,” because there may be certain behavior subconsciously that we are not aware of yet.
And this is really the importance of meditation. Real profound change, elimination of our internal states in our daily life, can only occur when we meditate. It is a combination of our daily work, being physically active in the day, learning the sweetness of worship by fulfilling our obligations, as the Sufis state.
So remember that quote that states that we learn to feel sweetness of worship in our outward deeds. This is the first step. We gather data about our ego. Moment by moment, instant by instant. Following our heart to the best of our ability. There are occasions where we may feel that joy, that sweetness in the heart that says, “I know I did the right thing,” or perhaps remorse, “I felt that I did a bad thing.”
Ecstasy occurs, understanding occurs, comprehension evolves, unfolds when we make inner effort. Meaning: go home, retrospect your day, visualize the scene as it happened and ask divinity to help you understand what was going on there and how you could have acted if the situation was wrong, or if one behave badly. That is the only way to really gain clarity, because it's difficult to trust what we see.
We tend to be very clouded people, but it is inevitable that if we are saving our energies meditating daily, reviewing our day, imagining those scenes and asking for understanding and comprehension of the ego, that naturally as we go back to work the next day or repeat the same situation, we will start to see things more and more. If we are changing more profoundly, psychologically, it means that we will act in better and better ways and that conscience in our heart gets stronger.
Question: I wanted to ask you at the beginning, when I first started studying, I only focused on you know, just the intellectual part, like just reading and reading and reading until I can build my practices little by little, but I'm still not... like sometimes I feel like I'm not doing enough. Obviously. I am not doing enough, but I wanted to know what is the significance of the difference between, I guess, the [Church of] Laodicea and the Church of Philadelphia! because I was meditating and I went to a place and it was very beautiful, and I asked them what that place was and there was an older man. He said this was Philadelphia, so I'm not sure. Then later I see, well, you know, there's the two glands but maybe I'm not doing enough or I don't know. I don't know what that meant.
Instructor: Those two chakras, our churches, between the eyebrows, Philadelphia, and the Church of Laodicea at the crown, those chakras are known as the Chakra Ajna and the Chakra Sahasrara according to Eastern mysticism. According to the Book of Revelation they are known as churches, and the Sufis refer to these centers as Lataif, the seven world centers [seven organs of perception] in which the powers of the initiate are developed through the help of a master according to Sufi tradition.
Philadelphia literally means “brotherly love.” Philos, delphia: love of humanity, and that has to do with perceptions relating to astral projection, clairvoyance, understanding thought, understanding our own selves, self-observation, awareness. A lot of people like to think that this term clairvoyance only applies to a few people who have a special gift. It is a French term that means “clear vision.” It was invented by a group of people to confuse humanity to make them think that only a few people could have that knowledge, which is a mistake. It was an effort to deflect people from studying their knowledge.
But the reality is that clairvoyance or perception means “imagination.” It's the ability to perceive spiritual images. That clarity of vision occurs in the astral plane, especially, when we awaken in the dream state, or when we are meditating and we start to see images. They can be experiences or landscapes, as I said. Lights, illumination, internal states of the soul. Those visions greatly vary and apply to what we experience in meditation in terms of imagery, psychic experiences, visuals, sounds, even.
Sounds can also relate to the chakra of the throat which is the Church of Sardis in the Book of Revelation, relating to sound, mystical sounds. Those centers are active when we calm the body, calm the heart, calm the mind.
It gets deeper more and more as we are practicing self-observation, as well as imagination exercises. Meaning, we take an image and visualize it and try to picture it with clarity between our eyebrows. We have to develop that type of perception when we are in our work of self-observation.
It is a profound form of clairvoyance to see the ego objectively. To separate as an observer to the observed. The soul, the consciousness, is observing then the nafas, the ego, the animal "I’s,” the lower soul, desires, according to the Sufis. And learning to separate from that we develop greater clarity of perception.
A lot of factors pertain to that element, but the primary one is, in accordance to the name of Philadelphia, philos-delphia, love of humanity, brotherly love, we develop that chakra profoundly when we eliminate anger, because the opposite of brotherly love is hatred. If you want to develop that type of perception with greater clarity, illumination of the soul, we have to learn to eliminate negative internal states, the ego.
This is why in that excerpt from The Aquarian Message we read, "God searches the nothingness in order to fill it." If we are filled with anger, we cannot reflect God. Anger ripples the mind, the lake of the mind. It makes it agitated, and therefore the images of the superior world cannot reflect in our meditation and likewise in our daily states. If we are not working on that negative emotion in our daily life, we won't see with clarity. It will be difficult to understand right from wrong, to observe our own egos in action. But if we develop serenity, love of humanity, the mind calms, we transform our situation, we see our perception, our situation with clarity.
But even beyond that is the crown chakra, which is much higher. It has to do with very elevated experiences like the one I related to you all tonight, in which you leave behind the universe and enter the states of Being which are beyond thought, feeling, and will. Those are states that we can only understand through experience, but it's good that when you are meditating and studying and practicing, that you learn about these experiences so that when it happens you don't get confused.
We are going back to your comments and your question is, that if you want a greater clarity in your perceptions, if you want to understand what that aspect of your soul is, Philadelphia, the Church of the third eye, that Chakra Ajna, we have to learn how to develop serenity, patience, and love. Without that we don't have any clarity in what we see. Sometimes our perception, that third eye, can be negative if it's charged with pessimism, resentment, negativity. Therefore, everything we see will be clouded from that element, which is why when people are filled with anger, they don't see clearly. They can't rationalize. But it seems that the experience you just related has to do with the beauty of the soul that learns how to see with objectivity.
The Church of Philadelphia internally is very beautiful. All the churches of the Gnostic movement are very beautiful and profound. So there are places that you can visit internally, but also relates to certain qualities, perception. So if it's a beautiful experience that you had, it would seem to be that it's indicating to you the beauty of your own clairvoyance when it is pure. If it's clouded by negative internal states, then it becomes a problem. Hope that answers your question.
Question: Yeah, it does because I think this was like a gift like you were saying so that it would motivate me to work towards that.
Instructor: Yes. That is usually how those experiences unfold.
The following transcription is from an audio lecture on Sufi Principles of Meditation, a course originally delivered live at the Gnostic Academy of Chicago.
So the purpose of this course is to study and understand, as well as apply the principles of meditation. Meditation in its heart has been taught in the core of every religion, but in accordance with the skills or dispositions, the needs, the qualities of the students, and the particular culture in which this teaching has been given. So in Gnosticism we study a variety of faiths, a variety of teachings, which all point towards the development of the soul.
In the spirit of universality and study, we are going to be examining in this course how the Sufis taught the science of meditation. Sufism is a very beautiful teaching, but which unfortunately is not very well studied in the West; neither is it understood or practiced well, primarily because in Western society, Sufism has taken an academic role, where it has been exclusively limited to discussions and polemics of academies. But in its practical essence, Sufism teaches us how to understand our way of being, who we are fundamentally—to see and comprehend the path that leads out of suffering and towards the personal experience of the divine.
Some of you may be familiar with the poet Rumi. He’s actually the most popular poet in the west. He stated: “Remember that the entrance door to the sanctuary is inside you.” So this statement is very profound and applies to the science of meditative knowledge: how we explore ourselves to perceive and understand what in us makes us suffer and what we can do to change.
Samael Aun Weor, the founder of the modern gnostic tradition, wrote in The Spiritual Power of Sound:
“It is completely impossible to experience the Being, the Innermost, the Reality (the divine) without becoming true technical and scientific masters of that mysterious science called meditation.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Spiritual Power of Sound: “The ‘I’ and the Being”
Meditation as denominated by the Sufis is mushahida. It means contemplation, to witness, to perceive. If you've heard or studied the public teachings of Islam, they have a very famous statement or declaration of faith called the Shahadah, which is the famous postulation: "There is no god but God, and Muhammad is His prophet.” In a profound way, to witness divinity, to witness the truth in ourselves, to experience what religion calls God, that all depends on meditation—because to bear witness of something, we have to see it. We have to perceive it. And that is what meditation is for. To see divinity. To know divinity. To not believe or leave that knowledge exclusively in the intellect or a sentiment in the heart. To really bear witness of the truth is to be a practical meditator. To practice contemplation, mushahida. That is how we enter the sanctuary inside of us, because all of us have divinity, the reality, the Being inside.
Samael Aun Weor, who founded our tradition, explained that Sufism teaches about the level of being, qualities of consciousness and also the way to perceive in ourselves, to understand the obstacles: that which conditions us and makes us suffer, by perceiving in us that which gives us pain. There is a way to change and to experience what divinity is, what religions have called divinity, no matter what the name from whatever culture.
So the purpose of meditation is to comprehend, to remove suffering and to elevate our consciousness to a better state than what we are presently in.
Meditation is not a technique. It's a way of being, a state of consciousness. Meditation is a profoundly lucid, pristine, cognizant state, that is free of conditioning.
So let us examine ourselves, if we aspire to learn meditation, to fully practice it. What in us is conditioned? What in us makes us suffer? What psychological states do we experience that are problematic for us, that make others suffer, that create conflicts at work and home, in the bedroom? What in us produces our pain?
To change all that, to no longer be afflicted, we practice the science of meditation. It is a state of consciousness: one in which we clearly perceive in us that which needs to change, which can be transformed. Because only from the state of equanimity, of dispassion, of calm, can we truly change our situation.
Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not daydreaming. It is not fantasizing or spacing out. Neither is it a dull state, a torpidity of mind, a cloudiness. Neither is it simply relaxing. Relaxation is essential, but it is not the state of meditation. It is what leads to it, what sets the foundation.
Meditation is the science of perception, of witnessing the truth for ourselves, to practice mushahida.
By comprehending ourselves, we learn to perceive clearly, because fundamentally all of us struggle with anger, with pride, with fear, with resentment, with envy, with lust. These are qualities of being which are very negative: fear that debilitates, that conditions, that traps the essence of who we really are.
Fortunately in religion and any meditative teaching there is a path that leads out of those conditioned states. But what it requires is a type of renunciation, a type of work, a type of practice. And this practice helps us to perceive the reality of our situation. Not what we believe or we fantasize, what we want to change simply with the intellect, by thinking or feeling, or daydreaming about a utopia, a better situation.
Meditation is the means by which we practically apply profound principles of understanding. As we say in this tradition: “Meditation is the daily bread of the Gnostic.” That bread is understanding, because when we understand something in us, when we comprehend defects like anger or pride or resentment, we can learn to remove them. Comprehension is the sustenance of the soul. Comprehension is essential. Understanding the conflicts of our mind and where they originate produces peace, equanimity, serenity.
And so the reason why we suffer is because we don't have equanimity. We don't perceive clearly in us what makes us suffer. Sadly humanity does not really understand or apply the methods for change. People suffer because they do not perceive reality as it is. We have desires that want the external world to change and yet we don't change fundamentally. Because of conditioned elements like fear and pride and anger and lust, we see life through the lens of these desires. Reality is one way, our desires want something else. And because our desires are never satisfied, never fulfilled, we go on through our existence, repeating mistakes, suffering, wanting the situation to change, yet not changing our own perspective.
It would be more radical and interesting if we were to transform our own mental states, because by changing who we are inside, we learn to change our situation.
So in a symbolic way, all of us are addicted to psychological states that produce suffering. But unfortunately we don't like to see this in ourselves. It's not a pleasant truth to understand: that we produce our own suffering and that we also make other people suffer too.
An alcoholic, someone who is addicted to intoxicating substances, may know intellectually that the desire or craving for alcohol is harmful, yet that person may continue to indulge in that desire, that state. They continue to suffer. So we may know on some level, whether we have experienced drug addiction or alcoholism, that engaging in that element is harmful. We may continue to do so anyways.
While this is a very extreme case, this is an example of our daily state. An addict knows that that addiction is wrong, but continues to feed that desire. And because desire never equates with reality, that person continues to suffer. The reality of engaging in that desire is to feel more and more pain, more suffering. And so all of us have addictions, perhaps not to substances, but to states of anger, of fear, of pride, because we want our situation to be a certain way, according to our egotism and desires. And yet because reality is what it is, we fight against it and suffer.
That is the state of the ego, egotism, the self, which we explore in our studies of meditation and seek to comprehend. Because by comprehending desire and the origins of our traumas, our sufferings, we reach the state of equanimity and change.
So on a basic level, we do not comprehend how our own desires make us suffer, because if we understood our desires and how they are never satisfied, we would not act on them or feed them. Because desire, which is always in conflict with reality, can never be filled, never be quenched. And when we don't get what we want, we suffer. That is a state of mind, of egotism.
The Reality of Suffering and Internal Transformation
This is why our world is what it is today, with all of its wars, its chaos, its afflictions. Humanity is in a state of crisis and people like to change the world with politics and theories and beliefs. People attempt to resolve the external situation without even considering how we psychologically are the cause of all the pain in this world. If the individual were to examine him or herself, his or her own mental states, which cause violence, extortion, prostitution, destruction—such a person would comprehend and would enact a superior way of being, a better way of acting, of relating to the world.
Samael Aun Weor wrote in his book Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology that:
“All things, all circumstances that occur outside of ourselves on the stage of this world are exclusively the reflection of what we carry within.”
It is a very difficult realization to make, but anybody who approaches spirituality sees in themselves, observes in themselves, how their states of egotism are the exact reflection of the chaos we see humanity in today. Society is the individual. It is a reflection of the individual mind. Trying to change the society in which we live can never produce results, if the individual does not change him or herself. It is a fundamental law of nature, a dynamic. The society is the individual. How we relate to others is a reflection of our own internal psychological states in which Sufism teaches us very beautifully how to comprehend, to analyze, to know.
“With good reason then we can solemnly declare that the ‘exterior is a reflection of the interior.’ When someone changes internally and if that change is radical, then circumstances, life and the external also change.” —Samael Aun Weor, Treatise of Revolutionary Psychology
So the science of meditation is what will lead us towards that change. As Samael Aun Weor wrote in The Great Rebellion:
“In life, the only thing of importance is a radical, total and definitive change. The rest frankly, is of no importance at all.”
So when we study Sufism or any tradition, meditation, we have to be very tired of suffering. We have to be very firm in our resolve, to work on our own mistakes and not to blame others. To change who we are. Because if we cannot change ourselves, it is impossible to change another person, to influence them, to help them. So therefore if we are really working effectively in ourselves, then our situation will change. It is a law of nature, like gravity, like attraction.
What we are psychologically attracts the circumstances of our life. If we are drunkards, we will be at the bar with other drunkards. If we are lawyers, we will be with other lawyers. If we are studying spirituality, we will meet others in a positive sense who are studying the same type of teaching, who also want to change. And so these type of influences help, or don't, depending on our state of mind.
We have to examine the facts. This is the radical zero-base by which we approach the science of meditation, because meditation is a state of consciousness. It is a state of understanding. It's about acquiring information, acquiring data. We have to see and look into ourselves, to witness that which causes our affliction—to see it, not to daydream, to theorize, to believe, to think we are a certain way, because of our cultural heritage or experience, but simply to look, to examine, to perceive.
Because as I provided the example of an alcoholic, they may know intellectually that their desire for alcohol is destructive, that it causes harm. They may intellectually know this and yet continue to engage in that desire itself. So what is missing in this example is observation of the facts: looking at what the situation is, what is the reality.
“Gnosis is lived upon facts, withers away in abstractions and it is difficult to find even in the noblest of thoughts.” —Samael Aun Weor, The Revolution of the Dialectic
So this term gnosis is Greek. It means knowledge, but not of the intellectual type. It is conscious experiential perception of reality. There are many levels of this perception, just as within the Muslim or Sufi doctrine there are levels of witnessing the truth.
So you've all heard the famous public declaration of faith: "La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammadun rasul Allah” (There is no god but God and Muhammad is His prophet). There are many people who recite this declaration and believe that they are now followers of God and that they are saved, simply because they think a certain way or feel a certain way.
But unfortunately, gnosis is lived upon facts, it withers away in abstractions. It is an abstraction to believe in a concept, that one is a follower of a tradition, or thinks that one is a saint, to believe that we are holy people because of our religion, of a institution, of a group. These are just concepts. They don't relate to the reality of our situation, about what we are psychologically. Believing in God does not change our anger in a moment of crisis. When we are criticized, we respond or react negatively and create problems, suffering for ourselves and others.
This declaration of faith on a public level does not really do anything, although people are welcome to practice and believe what they want. But in this teaching we like to be practical. What does it mean to witness divinity? To bear witness of something? It means that we've experienced it.
To witness something, or a person who is a witness in a court of law, sees an event with objectivity (hopefully). But in that situation, when we say we have seen something, it's because we've experienced it. It is what we know. It is not what we believe. To really bear witness that there is a divinity inside of us—and that there are many masters of humanity, of any tradition, that we have experienced—is another thing. It's another thing to really have that knowledge for ourselves from experience.
So what is this declaration of faith mean in a more profound level? To bear witness means that one is practicing mushahida, which is the Arabic term for meditation. Because in a state of meditation, when we have abandoned our conditions of mind, our negative internal states, we can in turn enter in to states of consciousness that are more elevated and that are beyond physicality. The body goes to sleep and the consciousness can experience truths that are beyond physical matter and energy. Some people call these dreams, lucid dreams, out of body experiences, astral projections, jinn experiences.
These are states of consciousness that are very real and the one who has experienced them knows those states primarily because of facts, because fulfilling the necessary principles of meditation, by working practically with them, and therefore such a person does not need to believe in anything—doesn't believe in a tradition, doesn't think something is true or think God is there, but knows it, because one has the experience. It is no longer an abstraction, and that unity of God, that the public teaching of Islam fundamentally ignores, is something inside. People like to believe in God as some anthropomorphic figure in the clouds, who dispenses lightning bolts to this poor anthill of a humanity. That figure does not exist. Instead it's better to think of, or conceptualize in the beginning, of divinity as a state of consciousness, which is inside of us, our true nature.
The Unity of God and the Soul
And so that unity that there is only one God is something psychological, internal, profound. That unity is a state of being which is very pure, has no suffering, has no pain, no anger, no lust, no desire. It is a definitive state of liberation. But if we look at ourselves and look at the facts of our experience, we find that we have many different desires. We have anger and pride and fear and laziness and gluttony. In one moment we may desire to have coffee cake—in the next watch television, go on YouTube, get into an argument. We are constantly conflicted, moving in multiple directions all at once. We have many desires which are not unitary, they are actually disparate, conflicting, contradictory.
We are a walking paradox, because physically we have this body which is unitary or works as a unit, but psychologically we are not a unit. We are very conflicted and this is why people suffer so much, why we are in the situation we are in. Because we don't look at the reality of our mind.
So meditation is about gathering data about that multiplicity of desires and discursive factors in us, which we seek to comprehend and to eliminate, to change. Meditation is how we see clearly in us what needs to change. Therefore “Gnosis is lived upon facts, it withers away in abstractions,” ideas, beliefs, “and it is difficult to find even in the noblest of thoughts.” So religion as it is taught today has very noble aspirations, but we have to look at the practical aspects of these doctrines, of these methods, to see what works and what doesn't. Because if humanity continues to suffer and we continue to suffer, it means that we are not changing fundamentally. This is the radical foundation by which we address ourselves when we study this type of teaching.
There is a Sufi initiate, a Sufi teacher by the name of Al-Junayd. He was quoted in a book called Al-Risalah, which simply means Principles of Sufism. He elaborates and even confirms what Samael Aun Weor states in this quote from The Revolution of the Dialectic:
“Al-Junayd states: To affirm the unity means to distinguish the eternal from ephemeral.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So what does it mean to affirm God? To know divinity, to have that divinity manifest in our very thoughts, our very words, our very deeds, our very ways of acting, our life. To have happiness that is eternal, that is unconditioned, that is pure. It means to distinguish that which is eternal from that which is ephemeral. Meaning, get through the illusions.
Look at the illusions that we continue to engage in about ourselves. It means to look at that which is not concrete, which is not real. Because all these desires, according to any meditative tradition, are not our true identity. Our true identity is happiness, a state of contentment, a state of peace. And so everything else is arbitrary. It is not eternal, and therefore we have to learn how to go inside of ourselves, to calm the mind and to learn to remove the conditions that have trapped us, that we put into place.
Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, the greatest poet of the Sufi tradition stated:
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
Therefore we have to rely on facts, observe ourselves, gather data about what we are doing at any given moment. To practice awareness of ourselves. Because as Al-Jurayri, again from this book Principles of Sufism, teaches:
“If someone does not seek to acquire the knowledge of the Unity (of divinity, from experience) through some kind of evidence, the foot of his delusion will slip into an abyss of destruction.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Of course this is a very serious case, but any person who approaches meditation does so because they no longer want to suffer in life, and want to change themselves. We have to rely on evidence; look at what we are. Do not assume we are a certain way, or think intellectually we are or possess certain qualities, but simply to look, to observe, to not daydream. But also not to seek for love, but to look at ourselves, to see what has trapped it. Because by removing these imperfections in ourselves, we can truly experience what love is.
The Three Levels of Meditative Instruction
Meditation was taught in the schools of Sufism very similar to many other traditions. There is an introductory teaching, there is an intermediate teaching, and there is an advanced teaching.
The following words are Arabic: There is Shari’ah (introductory level), there is Tarīqah, (the intermediate level) and there is Haqiqah / Ma’rifah (the advanced level). These are respectively an exoteric or public teaching, a mesoteric or intermediate teaching, and a hidden, secret mystical teaching, an esoteric teaching.
If you study Buddhism you're very familiar with the three schools: Śrāvakayāna, Mahayana, Tantrayana.
We are going to explain a little bit about these terms because they hold a lot of value for studying what meditation is and how to practically and effectively apply it.
People hear the term Shari’ah and in the West this term has a lot of baggage. People associate Shari’ah with Shari’ah law, as the punitive laws of Muslim countries, in which people have been stoned or executed, have been harmed. And sadly people have used that aspect of, or misinterpreted the original intent of this term. Shari’ah simply means law, but it is not a cultural law. It is not morals. It is not dogma.
The Sufis have a very interesting interpretation of what Shari’ah means. It simply means conduct, how one acts. Shari’ah as a public teaching, in the true sense, refers to how we produce actions which bring about the harmony and happiness of others, but also ourselves. This is known as ethics, codes of conduct, ways of being. It has nothing to do with the violence that is truly afflicting the Middle East. Whether people would like to interpret certain scriptures for their own benefit, to promote degeneration and destruction is one thing, but the Sufis have always explored the Qur’an and other mystical writings from a symbolic point of view.
Shari’ah refers to in its true sense, ways of being, superior ways of acting, such as compassion, kindness, understanding, love. It also means to refrain from those negative states of mind which produced suffering: anger, fear, pride, etc. This is the most introductory level of any meditative tradition. Ethics. Producing causes of happiness in oneself. Actions that produce harmony, peace and refraining from behaviors, even mentally and emotionally, which cause conflict.
The intermediate state which is built off of this foundation has to do with the heart. Tarīqah means “path,” and the Sufis explain that this is the path one follows in the desert of life. All of us are in particular situations in life, our experiences. We all have our own sufferings and hardships. We are symbolically wandering in the desert. Tarīqah has to do with those special practices that are for the benefit of others. The introductory level of religion, ethics, has more to do with training our own negative mental states and producing positive states. But the path of spirituality, Tarīqah, is working more for the benefit of others.
So this is a very profound shift in one's focus, in which our meditation is not just about us. We learn to change who we are so that we don't affect others negatively.
I believe there is a statement by a famous Sufi master. His name is Ibn Arabi. He said that he would always go on retreats, khalwa in Arabic, in order to not abandon the world, to avoid negative people, but he would go off into the desert or wherever in order to reflect on himself and work on himself, so that he did not affect others. He said most people enter retreat because they want to avoid bad people, the cities, whatever. But what Tarīqah, the mesoteric level of meditation, the heart of any religion, is more about working for the benefit of others.
We meditate not just for our own benefit, to know divinity for ourselves, but in order to express positive states of being with others. To produce the happiness of others.
This is the path that leads us towards the highest stages of realization. When we work for others, when we develop compassion, when we eliminate states like anger, we are in turn preparing ourselves for even higher degrees of understanding, which is Haqiqah, Ma’rifah.
Haqiqah is truth from the Arabic Al-Haqq, which is one of the names of divinity given in Islam. Ma’rifah means knowledge. Again this is the Arabic equivalent of the word in Greek, gnosis. This is the esoteric teaching. It is the hidden teaching. It has to do with certain practices which are very expedient, in which people who have fully established themselves in meditation and are working for the benefit of others can receive methods and practices in order to truly advance. To have more power and energy and work by which to impact others positively.
This is the equivalent of Tantrayana, the teachings of tantrism or the perfect matrimony explained by Samael Aun Weor. It is the teachings of alchemy according to medieval science, the science of a marriage, how a couple can work together in their matrimony, in their union, in order to transform everything they are for humanity.
Ibn Arabi, who is called the greatest of Sufi teachers, stated that in the introductory level of Shari’ah, “What is yours is yours and what is mine is mine.” There is separatism. Individuals work primarily on their own minds, so that they no longer suffer. In the intermediate path, Tarīqah, “What is yours is mine and what is mine is yours,” he says. People share and commune and work together. People work on their minds, their hearts, in order to help humanity as a whole. And then in the advanced state, Haqiqah, Ibn Arabi states: “Nothing belongs to you or me.” Because at that state of meditation, one is working very seriously and is impacting humanity out of the state of selflessness. For Ma’rifah, he says: “There is no you or me.” There is only God.
This is the highest teaching of religion, because the word religion from the Latin religare means “to reunite.” This is when the soul or consciousness in meditation and through this type of work has united as a consciousness with the Truth, Al-Haqq. No matter what name is given to that Truth, no matter what religion, that divinity. This is a very profound state and at that level in which one can truly say “There is no god but God and Jesus is His prophet, and Buddha is His prophet, and Krishna, Moses, Muhammad, whomever, are His prophets.” That is the highest experience of the truth which we can taste in the beginning if we're working seriously. But these levels are developed gradually, progressively, as we are practicing the requisites.
The Divine Law, the Way, and the Inner Reality
There are some very beautiful teachings about meditation and these dynamics explained by a Sufi writer by the name of Al-Qushayri. He wrote in the book called Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism explanations which are very profound about understanding what this past level instruction entails. He states:
“The divine Law [Shari’ah] commands one to the duty of servanthood.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So again, what is this divine law? Some of you may be familiar with Buddhism, with karma, cause and effect, action and consequence. The divine law is acting for the benefit of others. Curtailing negative emotions so that one no longer suffers oneself.
“The divine Law commands one to the duty of servanthood [to serve divinity].” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
This is not a belief. It's a factual practice in which when we are confronted, such as at work, we may be criticized; we feel anger rising in ourselves, hurt self esteem, pride. We learn to serve divinity by not acting on those elements. By first restraining ourselves consciously, looking at ourselves and not acting from a state of negativity. That is how we serve God in us. We don't enact our desires. We learn to act with the soul, with consciousness.
“The Way [Tarīqah], the inner Reality [Haqiqah] is the contemplation of divine lordship.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So what is this inner reality as we were saying? It is gnosis. It is experience. When in meditation, we experience what divinity is. It also means that we comprehend ourselves, all of that which clouds the mind, which prevents us from reflecting that divine truth in ourselves.
“Outward religious practice not confirmed by inner reality is not acceptable. Inner reality not anchored by outward religious practice is not acceptable.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
What is outward religious practice? It has to do with any type of exercise in our tradition or any tradition which is not confirmed, not understood, which is not experienced. It has to be validated by inner reality. Meaning, if we're practicing meditation or any type of exercise, such as pranayama, runes, sacred rites of rejuvenation, mantras, any type of practice, which we are using to develop our spirituality, has to be verified by inner reality. We have to genuinely perceive how these practices work. How they are effective. Because simply going through the motions of praying mechanically does not produce any results. Therefore this type of practice is not acceptable. We have to really vividly, consciously understand the purpose of any exercise, so that we can become prepared for meditation.
“Inner reality not anchored by outward religious practice is also not acceptable.” Meaning, having any type of experience, weather in dreams, or in meditation, which have nothing to do with our practice is also not acceptable.
There are many people who by engaging in this type of exercises start to see things in themselves. They have dreams or visions. But unfortunately because the mind is so conditioned, we are so afflicted with ego, that all we are seeing in many cases is a reflection of our own subjectivity, our own conditions. So if someone is filled with anger, they see through anger. They have dreams and visions and experiences filtered through that element.
Unfortunately we have a lot of egotism and we project a lot of our mind into our dreams when the physical body is asleep. So having those type of inner experiences, not grounded in any type of ethics, is unacceptable. If we have visions or perceptions, which are not grounded in our spiritual practices, is also not acceptable. We have to learn to differentiate that which is objective from that which is false, and this is the fundamental quality of meditation. It's discernment. To discern what is ephemeral from what is eternal.
“Divine Law brings obligation upon the creation, while the Way is founded upon the free action [or experience] of the real.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So this path of ethics, divine law, is an obligation upon us. Divinity does not want us to suffer. Divinity wants us to enact positive actions which produce happiness. It is an obligation. It is a trust and a tryst. It is an agreement that anyone takes, when they are seriously working and looking in themselves to change. And so this way is founded, meditation is founded upon the free action or experience of the truth. We have to perceive and experience these things for ourselves, what religion, scriptures and practices actually entail, and their results.
“The divine Law is that you serve Him, the Way is that you see Him.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
How do we serve divinity? When we are with our loved ones, our parents or family members are really provoking our anger, our self-esteem, our pride—we want to be sarcastic, negative, harmful, hurtful with our speech—we serve divinity when we refrain from those behaviors. That is how we serve divinity. Because religion is about bringing communities together, creating harmony.
“The Way is that we see Him.” In the beginning we don't see divinity. We all want experiences, to have some type of ecstasy of the soul in which we talk face-to-face with our own inner Being, our inner God. Unfortunately, because we are conditioned, we don't see that in the beginning typically, unless we are really working seriously. We serve divinity by fulfilling ethics and we learn to see divinity when we fulfill those basic requirements. Because when we act on egotism, we feed desire and continue to cloud and condition our mind.
As Prophet Muhammad taught in the oral tradition of Islam, there is an organ in the body which, when it is pure, can reflect the truth. It is like a mirror. If it is cloudy, it cannot reflect anything—it is dirty. But when it is polished, it can reflect the truth. That organ is the heart, and the polish for the heart is remembrance—to remember divinity in those moments in which we are really tested. We are provoked to the edge, and yet we refrain from acting on those negative qualities of mind and that we, in turn, enact positive, superior action. That is how we polish our heart, refine our conduct, so that we can see divinity, to know divinity and therefore it is no longer a theory. It is what we experience.
“The divine Law is doing what you have been ordered to do. Haqiqah is bearing witness to what it is determined and ordained, hidden and revealed.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So again Haqiqah, Truth, to know reality, the Being.
“I heard Abu Ali al-Daqqaq say that God's saying [in the Opening Surah, Al-Fatihah of the Qur'an] iyyaka nabudu—"You we worship"—preserves the outward practice, the divine Law. Iyyaka nastain—"to You we turn for help"—establishes the inner reality, the Way.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So those of you who are not familiar with the Qur’an, one of the most commonly recited prayers in the Muslim tradition states from the very opening of this book:
In the name of God, the infinitely Compassionate and Merciful.
Praise be to God, Lord of all the worlds.
The Compassionate, the Merciful. Ruler on the Day of Judgment.
You alone we worship, and to You we turn for help.
Guide us on the straight path,
the path of those who have received your grace;
not the path of those who have brought down wrath, nor of those who wander astray.
―Al-Fatihah: The Opening
“You alone we worship.” That is Shari’ah, the divine law. But why? What does it mean to worship divinity in accordance with meditative science?
It doesn't mean to believe or feel in the heart that one is a saint or a good person. To worship divinity is to have that respect and even that anxiety in moments of great trial in which we are truly tested.
We worship divinity by our actions, not through any type of mechanical, canonical prayer, by reciting words, which can have meaning or not. We demonstrate our worship in divinity by our level of acting, our level of being, how we behave in moments of great trial. We worship divinity when we don't feed anger, pride, lust, because we know that those qualities of mind will produce suffering for ourselves and others. We worship divinity because we want to make divinity manifest in us.
So this is the outward practice: “You we worship.” And then the inner reality is established by: “To you we turn for help.” So how is it also that we can worship divinity? It is very simple. We practice concentration, we relax the body, we focus in ourselves and silence our mind. Remove the obscurations of the psyche. Don't think so much. Ask a question of your inner divinity for help, for insight. When we concentrate our mind, we are performing a type of worship, because the distracted mind, a discursive mind, a fractured mind, cannot reflect anything true. It is simply conditioned by its own negativity.
“You we worship” is a type of concentration in which we abandon the mind, we abandon thinking, we abandon emotion, we relax the body, relax everything that we think we are and achieve a type of stillness. When we attain quietude in the mind, when we are no longer thinking so much, when thoughts are no longer there, when the heart is at peace, we can then receive the inner reality, the way. That is when we turn for help. Because remember that the mind and the heart are like a mirror, or even like a lake. If the lake is turbid, filled with waves and conflict, if it is churning with emotion, it cannot reflect any images on it's surface. But when it's still, it can reflect the heavens, the stars, nature.
And this is an allegory of our own meditative practice. “You we worship.” We concentrate. We relax the mind. We silence the mind. And then, when we're no longer thinking, insight, spontaneous, intuitive, emerges. We receive understanding. We can even receive experiences where we witness different states of consciousness, which are not physical. Imagery, which is not physical. Experiences that are beyond our physical reality. This is the inner way. This is how we turn for help. This is when we receive understanding, comprehension and with comprehension there is serenity, there is understanding and peace. When we understand the cause of a certain fault in us or a certain problem, we are no longer afflicted, and then we obtain religion.
“Know that religious obligation is a spiritual reality in that it was made necessary by His command. And spiritual reality, as well, is a religious obligation, in that the realizations of Him were also made necessary by His command.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Another very famous Sufi from the Persian tradition, wrote corroborating the thoughts of Al-Qushayri. His name is Abdullah Ansari of Herat, from the book Stations of the Sufi Path:
“Now, the divine law (Shari’ah) is entirely the divine truth (Haqiqah), and the divine truth is entirely expressed in the divine law, and the foundation of actual realization of the divine truth is the divine law and the claim to follow the law.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
So don't think of a law or this law as something physical, political, social. This law has to do with consciousness. Certain behaviors produce sorrow and pain. Certain states of consciousness produce happiness. By learning to work on ourselves, we can learn to experience this truth.
“The divine law and following that law without realizing the divine truth is useless, just as claiming to realize the divine truth without practicing and understanding the divine law is useless. So all those who act without integrating and realizing both of these together are acting in vain.” ―Abdullah Ansari of Herat, Stations of the Sufi Path
Simply believing in a tradition is useless. To say, “There is no god but God and Muhammad is His prophet,” or to believe in Jesus, in the Buddha and whomever and following a type of moral system, does not change anyone. Morality is, again, different from ethics. Morality are beliefs about how one should act. But that does not mean that one acts consciously. Ethics is what we do practically ourselves, so that we can experience the truth.
The Three Blessings of the Sufis
We will conclude with a beautiful teaching again from the book Principles of Sufism. They talk a lot about three blessings, which synthesize and summarize the foundations of meditation according to the Sufi teachings. It's a very beautiful book that elaborates many anecdotes and stories of which we will relate a few.
There are three blessings: faith, submission and beautiful action, Iman, Islam, and Ihsan. So faith has nothing to do with belief. When you witness something for yourself, you have faith. You have experienced it. You know it. Even as basic as putting one's hand on a hot stove and getting burned. One has faith and knowledge and understanding, that to place one's hand on that kitchen stove is to get burned. That is a very basic level of understanding. But in a more profound sense, we have faith when we verify through meditation what divinity is. What consciousness is. And that certain actions are either the bane or the boon of the soul.
Islam simply means “submission” in Arabic, “to submit.” People like to think that in the public sense, Islam has to do with following a certain tradition or series of prayers, which is beautiful. But in a more profound sense we submit to divinity when we work on our mind. We no longer act on egotism and that is how we act beautifully, Ihsan.
If you’ve heard the Arabic name Hassan, it originates from this Arabic root Ihsan. It means beautiful action. To act with such clarity and intuition in great trials and crises. To do what is right in a moment of great difficulty. That is Ihsan. Actions like that of Jesus, when he was crucified. The love and selflessness he showed to his enemies is perhaps the greatest act of selfless love, a beautiful action, our humanity has ever witnessed.
All of us have that potential to act beautifully and these three blessings are emphasized in the following anecdote:
“[The Angel] Gabriel appeared to the Prophet in the form of a man, ‘O Muhammad,’ he said. ‘What is faith (iman)?’ The Prophet replied, ‘To believe in a God, His angels, His books, His messengers, and destiny—it’s good and bad, its sweet and bitter, come from God.’ ‘You have spoken the truth,’ said the visitor.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So he uses the term belief and in the original Arabic there are meanings which are much more profound. People commonly associate belief with thinking something is true or feeling something is true, but not knowing. Belief comes from be-lieve: to be through the power of love, which is not just an intellectual thing, but is an act of consciousness in which our very ways of acting, thinking, feeling, moving, behaving is done from love and remembrance of divinity. To be present, to be conscious.
“‘You have spoken the truth,’ said the visitor. We were surprised that someone would corroborate the Prophet, both questioning him and confirming what he said. ‘And inform me: What is Islam (submission to God’s will)?’ he continued. ‘Islam is to establish prayer, give the poor their dues, fast during the month of Ramadan and make the pilgrimage to the House of God.’” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
This is the public level of Islam, certain prayers that people adopt and fulfill in a type of kindergarten for the science of meditation. Prophet Muhammad was even known to have said: “An hour of contemplation is better than a year of prayer.” But in the beginning it is good to pray. To pray to whatever divinity or form of divinity we have an affinity for. Islam is to submit to divinity through our heart, through our actions, where our very ways of being is a form of prayer. We can pray five times a day towards Mecca or any type of tradition that studies meditation. We can adopt many prayers, which are very beautiful and useful. They are all very powerful. But what's essential is that when we pray, we don't think. We don't rationalize. We open up our heart. We reflect in ourselves how we need help.
And to meditate, because an hour of contemplation, is the greatest prayer. To observe ourselves and to learn about what makes us suffer is the greatest form of prayer. It is also in this way that we give the poor their dues, we help others. All of us are poor or poor in spirit, and humanity also is very poor, and needs help.
“To fast during the month of ramadan and to make the pilgrimage to the House of God.” So fasting has many levels. Many Muslims will physically fast during this period of time. On a more profound level, which we will elaborate in the future lectures, fasting has to also do with how we no longer feed our ego. It is a type of fast. We don't give our desires what they want. It is a type of discipline. “And make pilgrimage to the House of God.” This is the famous Hajj, pilgrimage to Mecca, which is a very beautiful symbolic teaching about the inner work which we will elaborate in future lectures.
“‘You have spoken the truth,’ he said again. ‘So tell me about doing what is beautiful (ihsan)?’ ‘Doing what is beautiful is to worship God as if you see Him, and if you do not see Him, certainly He sees you.’ ‘You have spoken the truth,’ he said.” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
In the beginning we don't see divinity. We don't know what the Being is. But even though we are clouded of mind, the heart is not polished firmly, clearly yet. Divinity sees all of our actions, our inner being. So acting beautifully is knowing that on some level there are consequences to what we do. This is ethics. And in this way, by developing ethical behavior, we calm the mind. We develop peace of heart. We establish ourselves for deeper states of serenity.
This is how we learn to bear witness, to give testimony of the truth, to experience, to know the unity of the divine. The unitary state of consciousness, which in Arabic is called tawhid.
“I heard Abu Hatim al-Sijistani say... that al-Jalajili al-Basri said, ‘For the testimony of unity (tawhid) to be in force, faith is prerequisite…” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
Meaning, if we have no experience, no faith, we can not really affirm the validity of any teaching. So we have to really test and validate and experiment with these principles to see what is true.
“‘…for whoever has no faith cannot testify to the unity. For faith to be in force the divine law is prerequisite, for whoever does not hold to the divine law has no faith and cannot testify to the unity.’” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
We develop faith by experience, by enacting the causes that produce the state of meditation, of contemplation.
“‘For the divine law to be in force refined conduct is prerequisite, for whoever has not refined his conduct cannot hold to the divine law, has no faith, and cannot testify to the unity...’” ―Al-Qushayri, Al-Risalah: Principles of Sufism
So in synthesis, we prepare the practical foundations of meditation by developing our conduct. If we give in to desire, we can no longer perceive reality, but if we work on our own negative mental states, our own negative qualities of mind, we can in turn open up our psyche and our heart to know the truth.
Questions and Answers
Audience: Hi, I have a question regarding the word meditation. Would you be able to expound or break down the actual word or maybe the root word, and where the word comes from and what are the parts of the word? Because one of the things that I've been exploring are things like meditation involving a certain posture or the idea of meditation involving certain thoughts or certain practices, when often a state of meditation might be achieved looking at a tree or going for a walk. But then the question is, am meditating or am I moving nearer to meditation? My idea of meditation may not be at all that.
Instructor: Excellent question. In Arabic the word for meditation is mushahida, which relates to the term Shahadah, meaning declaration of faith, to bear witness of something. So meditation in it's proper sense is when we witness with clarity, with no condition of mind present, what the reality of a given situation is, or our own internal states. What is actually going on. Because meditation is, according to Samael Aun Weor in his writings, the state of acquiring information. And there are many levels and qualities of that type of introspection, of that witnessing.
Witnessing can be simply seeing in ourselves defect of anger—in a moment when which we are criticized, we are observing ourselves, being aware of ourselves, our surroundings and we see our quality of mind for what it is. Witnessing can also have to do with being aware of our surroundings as well. Being very vivid, very clear. So meditation is about being awake, acquiring data of our experiences. It's a quality that is very dynamic and there are many levels.
Some people have studied astral projection or dream yoga in which one is awake in the dream state. One is no longer in the physical body, but one is experiencing life in the internal worlds. That is a form of witnessing as well. A state of meditation. But the problem is that once we experience that state, even if it just for a moment, our own conditions of mind, our own egotism, pulls us out.
The way we learn to sustain those states is by again practicing meditation, going into ourselves, silencing our mind, relaxing, suspending our senses, looking inside of ourselves. Consciousness is very beautifully explained in many of the Sufi writings, which we are going to explore in this course, which can give you an idea of what those qualities and states are like. But the best teacher is always going to be your own practice. Examining your own mind and what qualities are objective and clear and what are not. Unfortunately, no one can really teach you that. That's something you have to really work within yourself. We can give you indicators and examples, but actually experiencing what that state is like is something very practical and personal.
Audience: Thank you for the presentation tonight. It was very helpful. You mentioned the fine example of a polished heart. It really made and impact on us here. The other thing is, in doing the practices, you also mentioned not to be mechanical. Wouldn’t the use of imagination, after preparing yourself, in the practices be essential and being able to perform them in a way that you can connect to divinity? This would also be carried on over to concentration and focusing and in our meditations.
Instructor: Absolutely. The term imagination is commonly called clairvoyance. For those who are not familiar with the teachings of conscious perception, imagination, it is the ability to perceive imagery that is not physical. And so whenever we do any practice, whether we are doing mantras or prayers and concentrating our minds, we open up our imagination to visualize and to perceive in our mind's eye the result of the goal we seek.
So imagination or perception, which is given the name clairvoyance, meaning “clear vision,” has to do with qualities of perceiving. When we do runes or any exercise of practice, any mantras, we learn to visualize in our mind energy flowing. Or we can visualize any figure within any tradition that truly inspires us, such as an image of the Virgin Mary or any of the Greek Gods. Imagination is essential to our practices. Meaning, to concentrate the mind is important in the beginning. We learn to concentrate ourselves by working in ethics, and once the waters of the mind and the heart are polished and refined and calm, that's when we can start to see things more clearly in us.
That is what the Sufis call witnessing. We learn to witness the truth when we are serene. We're not thinking. And in that exercise of runes or any type of practice that we do in this teaching, we first calm our mind and we visualize, we pray, we try to see in our consciousness any type of energy we are working with, or working with the Divine Mother in the sacred rites of rejuvenation. For those who are familiar, these are yoga postures that we perform along with prayer and visualization exercises. So we perform certain visualizations in which we ask for help from divinity in order to bring down healing energies in our body and our mind.
We have to see with our eyes closed what we are doing. If we're invoking or calling upon these forces, we have to learn to see them, to imagine them, to perceive them. And there are many levels through perception. So it's important that when we are meditating or silencing our mind or doing any type of prayer, we also imagine divinity in our consciousness and ask for help.
So of course imagination is very important. We will be talking more about that faculty as we advance in this course. We will hold a lecture about that topic specifically, but of course we want to see the prayer, relaxation, concentration, imagination. These are the factors that open up the doorway to experience. With the analogy we're providing, when the mind is calm or concentrated and relaxed in the state of prayer, we can start to perceive superior images, which don't come physically, but are internal and are something very dynamic.
Audience: I have a question regarding to the lecture. Throughout the lecture I kept thinking of a part of the Bible. I forgot the part of the Bible where it says: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” I don't know why that thought kept presenting itself throughout the lecture. Is there something related to that? Because my understanding to that is, having the fear of the Lord is being able to understand good and evil. So is there a way that you can expand a little bit about that?
Instructor: So going back to the teaching of Shari’ah and ethics, we learn to be afraid of acting wrongly in order to obtain wisdom. Somebody who's not afraid of behaving poorly in any type of circumstance—not in the egotistical sense, but from the state of reverence of divinity—that person will not have any real development.
So that statement, "The beginning of the knowledge is fear of the Lord.” That fear in original Hebrew is pechad. It can also mean reverence or awe. The Sufis talk a lot about the awe of divinity and that we have to have awe and reverence for our inner being, especially when we are tested. Situations arise in which we are conflicted and we really have to feel that reference and awe of divinity, knowing that even though we don't see divinity, divinity sees us. And if we act on our mind, we will cause problems. So that is one level of that meaning.
The beginning of real Ma’rifah, witnessing of divinity, is that precise respect we have for our Being when we feel anger is about to emerge and it's about to take over, but we refrain from acting on that element. That's the beginning, but we go deeper in meditation and look to comprehend in even deeper roots what that emotion was about, and we look at the facts of that. But again, relating back to Shari’ah, ethical conduct is the beginning of knowledge. Without ethics, we can't really have experience or knowledge of divinity.
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